To Be Found

When I was younger I would loose things a lot. I would set something down and completely forget where I put it when I needed the object later on. It wasn’t always my things either. I can’t remember exactly what it was that I had lost except for the fact that it was something my dad needed when he got home from work. I remember my momma had me look all over for it and when I couldn’t find it she stood me in the corner and said I had to stay there until I remembered where I put it. Of course I never really stayed in the corner long since mom would go into hyper-drive search mode and find the object way faster that what my memory could come up with.

On the flip side it is so awesome to reach into a pocket at find money there by surprise (though in reality, it was probably put there and then whoever put it there just forgot about it). In my mind that is a great forget, something that just makes you smile and go on the search for more. My mom is once again great at this. Over the many years of being away from home, each time I would go to visit, or she would come visit my family we learned that she likes to hide little treasures throughout the house that we find days to sometimes weeks later. She doesn’t always do it and it is something that is not expected but she must know that when the treasure is found it puts a smile on the recipients face.

I got to have that wonderful feeling over the holidays that I actually got the presents that my family actually wanted. It seemed that every holiday before there would be shopping and guessing and never really getting it right. This year it happened though, all the special items were found, got delivered on time, and the reactions of the people were caught on camera. Finding that special gift just adds a little more magic to the season.

The other night I went to a sweet family’s home to help them say goodbye to their dear cat. The cat was 22 years old which is very old indeed. The daughter at just three years old found the cat as a kitten under their front porch and somehow convinced her parents to let her keep it. Over the years the cat had many adventures outdoors as an great hunter, chaser of deer and was even smart enough to look both directions before crossing the street. As I sat with the family and listened to them tell story after story I knew that it was such a good thing that this cat was “found”. The now young lady said over and over again how her cat was her best friend. There are times when a family pet is found but usually they chose their people.

Finding your sanity in a time that usually strips our sanity from us is a wonderful thing. Over this last week we have had to deal with more people being sick. This can drive anyone to their breaking point. What it meant for the clinic that I work for was a lot of phone calls. There was a lot of rearranging of the schedules so that people would not get exposed to any illness. I forget how much I hate talking on the phone until I have to talk on the phone for a whole day. People are nice and pleasant for the most part, but it’s just draining to repeat over and over the script and then finding a different time slot to reschedule them too. The joy comes in knowing this was done for a reason. We were making sure to keep people safe to the best of our ability by not showing up on their doorstep sick.

Finding surprises like money in a pocket or a kitten under the house brings joy. Standing in a corner with your mind still drawing a blank on where something was put is not as enjoyable. To find something or even having the ability to forget something can be a blessing. To find your joy in all circumstances is where peace will be found. Joy doesn’t come from being happy all the time. Find joy comes from being content, and knowing you are loved and are important to God. Finding your joy and helping people because of the joy you have is amazing. What needs to be found in your life? Is it something that has just been lost in your house, or something bigger that will give you peace of mind? Whatever it is, I hope you don’t need to go stand in a corner until you remember but rather you find it by opening your eyes to the world around you. Until next time:

Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light.

Dumbledore

What Is Home?

A house is where people live, but what is home? I had a chance to think about this more lately. Home can mean so many things. Every morning my family and I wake up, do our morning routines and then we either head to work, school or off to run the many different errands we have. We get to come home from where we have gone and that means home to me. Home is when I step through the door knowing my dogs will bark at me, my kids will either be doing something together or off doing things in their own rooms. Home is knowing that my sweet hubby is cooking dinner and will commence in telling me about his day while I tell him about mine. Home is comfort and love.

Home was a weird thing today. My coworkers and I had a chance to walk through a building which was the place in which our careers started. We walked through each room remanincing about old times. We remembered the good times over some of the bad times and we dreamed about the possiblities of the future of being back in the building doing what we did when we started out. Home was in the moment of dreaming again with the people you have worked with and grew with over the last eighteen years. Home is knowing that the ragtag bunch of people are family.

Home is feeling comfortable at a church. One at which you are welcomed no matter what your background. I don’t know everyone and that’s ok. I just know that I am not judged because of what I do for a living. I am not judged nor is my family because of the lifestyle choices my kids make. My daughter and I work in the children’s ministry and we get to love on the kids. My son goes to Wednesday night youth group and the leader loves him and smiles so big when she sees him. The kids in my class come in and give hugs. There are family nights and monthly meals that the church shares together. This is Home.

Home is a dinner/lunch date with a friend. They are few and far between, but when they happen the go on for a couple of hours or more. There is food, drinks and laughter. I feel fulfilled afterwards. My heart spills over. I have one of these dates coming up here shortly. My friend is close to my age but has a young son, where I have older kids. We talk family, work, and animals. We get silly, we involve the waitress and we enjoy our time together. This is home.

Talking to my sister weekly is home. She is a voice of reason, and I love to get her worked up, but not always. If something happens within the extended family she’ll be the one to tell me about it. This has been like this for years and it works. I love hearing from my parents, aunts and uncles, but I know that when something significant happens my sister will call and tell me. My kids love her and my sister knows all about their quirks. There is no judgement just love. This is home.

Home is a good book. I love picking up a good book, a soft blanket and a snack. I love re-reading a good book. It’s like an old friend. I can look any way I want, eat what I want, sit where I want when I get into my book. There is comfort in that.

Home is where the love and comfort is. Home is who you share it with. Home is no judgement, just acceptance. Home has to be found but once it is, it remains. Where is home for you? Until next time:

Negativity is contagious

Unhappiness is contagious. Fear is contagious. But so is happiness. so is optimism. So is love. Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you. And strive to be a reflection of what you want to receive.

Michell C. Clark

Finding the Joy Breaks

There are weeks when even in the first hour of work on Monday it feels like I should be the last hour on Friday. The Monday already feels long and the weekend looks like it will never come. This past week felt like this for both my hubby and I. Work just kept going and obstacles kept coming our way. When my hubby went into work Monday the whole crew was there, by the time Friday came he was the only one left in his department which meant he was the only one in the building. Everyone else either was sick or had someone in the family sick. It came to a point in which he placed a sign on the door saying the building would be closed and that people would need to call in to take care of their billing questions. True to his nature he found the “Joy Breaks” in the situation. First thing he made a sign saying “The building is closed due to us being short staffed, the meanies but the calculators on the top shelf”. He took everything in stride. He had time to get his job done, and help those who called in, all while listening to his favorite rock bands.

My week was almost a blur of constantly going. That is the nature of the beast when working the field I work. The start of my week was supporting a sweet couple through the difficult time of saying goodbye. In even this the joy that came from hearing their story made the task smoother. They had their beloved pet since puppy and he had reached the ripe old age of 16 years without many medical problems. Their pet had been there through college and beyond, even to the point of the couple starting their own family. It was a sweet time of memories as they said goodbye.

The rest of the week was spent helping other pets in need with the joy of driving through beautiful country sides to get to a clients homes, chatting with friends that I don’t get to see normally due to life happening, and getting home to my family each night. One night I had gotten home after a long day thinking I would sit and veg until bedtime. My plan failed and I am happy for it since my son came out from his room, grabbed a card game and ask “mom you wanna play?” Let me tell you I haven’t laughed that hard in a while. The game requires saying five certain words in an exact order while placing cards down with different pictures on them. If the word and the picture match the person who slaps the deck first wins the round and other person takes the pile of cared. Lets just say I really get into the game. My son tried to slap my hand whenever the game called for it but usually ended up with his hand getting slapped. The faces he made and the redness of his hand had me giggling. By the time we were done with the round I was crying because of laughing so hard (before you think of me as being mean, my hand was just as red and he was laughing too).

My week ended with another sweet family having to say goodbye to a beloved pet. After a long day at the clinic I needed to reset my brain to be there for them. When I left the weight of the day was heavy. I got home and my sweet family let me zone out, let me just be and unwind. It was what was needed and when I woke up the next morning I was ready to take on the world. I had a hard time finding the “Joy Break” until it was handed to me by my family when they allowed me to not be in the moment.

Joy breaks can be recognizing when a break is needed. Joy is found when your family is getting along. It can be found when a child asks you to play a game. It can be found in a good book. Joy is found when you realize your kids can do things on their own. My middle child announced yesterday that she would be trying a recipe out that would be making cookies like the “Lighthouse cookies” you find at the store. You know those cookies that are like sugar cookies with the frosting that are light and fluffy? I am so excited to try those out. Joy comes in having your youngest feeling better after a day of running a fever. Joy comes from your oldest getting over her fear and learning to drive. Joy comes from my sweet hubby taking pride in a project he just finished. We now have cupboards in our hallway that used to have a brick chimney behind the wall. Joy comes in laughing so hard tears come. Joy comes from helping make cookies know that you get to sample them afterwards.

When life tells you you need to be busy to feel accomplished that is when you answer back with “Joy Breaks”. That is when you need to step back and realize there is more to life than being busy. Not many people will look back on their lives and think “Wow! look at how good I was at being busy!” I for one know I will look back and remember the joy moments. Yes I will have a rewarding career because I have it now, but that won’t be where the joy comes from, it will be when I took time to be with the Lord, be with my family and friends and took time to be right with myself. How about you? What do you want to see? What “Joy Breaks have you found? Until next time:

The secret of The Muppets is they’re not very good at what they do.

Kermit is not a great host, Fozzie is not a good comedian, Miss Piggy is not a great singer…Like, none of them are actually good at it, but they love it.

And they’re like a family, and they like putting on the show. And they have joy.

And because of the joy, it doesn’t matter that they’re not good at it.

And that is like what we should all be. Muppets

Brett Goldstein

Is It So Important?

Do you ever just think about something so long you start to actually think you need it? Instagram and other social medias seem to count on people do this. Most people use one if not more of the many social media outlets and when we get onto these outlets there are ads and reels/tweets (whatever they may be called) for different things you may have clicked on at one point. So for me I tend to navigate towards animal related topics. So though I will never have a farm, own a cow, chicken or horse I watch others that do own these animals and what they do with them. From those I have at some point clicked on a post for a veterinary topic in which now I follow certain people who of course have products they sell. I have seen numerous items that flow across my screen enough to now own certain items sold purely because I saw them enough times I was able to convince myself I really needed them.

My kids do this based on what they see going across their screens. I have seen them want things ranging from Fortnite, to Dragons to Anime. Recently due to new movies coming out, there have been reels and tweets and such about the movies. Cue thinking you want something just because you have seen it so many times. The latest fascination is the Spiderman movie. Due to the amount of times we have seen the actors doing their things they do and the promotion of the movie, one of my daughters is now interested in seeing latest movie as well as the ones previous to it. She has started looking into prices on renting the movies, she has watched the reels and tweets. She has gone and talked to her friend who is a Marvel fan to see what his thoughts are. I can say this, she is thorough.

We try to teach our kids the value of research and to be sure of their choices. It doesn’t always work and there are times in which us as parents don’t set great examples. My son at the moment is sure in his choice to not do the dishes that were left from last night. He has this thing about leaving chores undone. He gets them mostly done and then gets distracted by anything else that isn’t a chore. Last night dishes were left on the counter that were both clean and dirty. So we put them all in the sink and let him know he had to clean them all by hand and put them away. He is sure that my hubby and I are not fair. He even went as far as getting the Uno deck out to find the reverse card to give to one of us so that we would have to do the dishes for him. Cute but not effective. He was so sure of his ability to not have to clean the dishes by hand he made a price list of what it would cost us to have him do the dishes by hand and put them away. Once again cute but not effective. I will give it to him, he is creative in his ways of trying to get out of the problem. We will always encourage creativity, we will also enforce responsibility for your actions.

The ability to shut off the “obsessing” over different thoughts, actions, items is important. Most people in my life know that on Sundays I usually don’t answer my phone. I don’t even have it close by. I have chosen to take a day away so that I can focus on family life. Sometimes though I catch a text that upsets the quiet flow of the day. It’s of no fault of the person who sent it, since I chose to read it. Most of the times it is things that I can take care of on Monday but that doesn’t mean scenarios don’t go through my brain of what could happen if I don’t take care of it when I see it. It’s almost like waking up in the middle of the night knowing you should use the restroom but then decide you can ignore it only to not fall back asleep until you take care of the need. Taking time for yourself and family needs to be a first. If you can’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of others. This is the point of my Sunday routine. The rest of the week I respond quickly and try to help people and pets as much as I can, Sunday is the day I don’t.

In whatever way you see what it is that causes you to want something, it is up to you if you want to obsess over it. Is the movie or item so important that you think about it so much you buy it or see the movies as well as the previous movies? Is a routine so important to you that you do whatever it takes to preserve the routine? I wish I could say that I don’t think on things so much that it ruins my peace. When I look back on the times I did this, I can say it really wasn’t worth it. There are items of clothing I bought thinking I just had to have it that I no longer have. My kids no longer have the toys or clothing or pictures that they just had to have, but later decided they were no longer important. This is one reason why experiences have become more important than items. Days off are sacred. Family time is of priority. The things of importance have changed. Until next time:

Be strong enough to let go and patient enough to wait for what you deserve

They are Comfortable with you

I have been taking my daughter to the doctor over the last few months to make sure her medication is doing what it should be doing. Normally this means that there are questions that need to be answered. The problem is, my daughter clams up and responds in slight nods and quiet ”I don’t knows”. The nurse and doctor then looks at me for more clarification, in which I elaborated on the nods and quiet answers. I learned after the first couple of doctor appointments that if I talk with her while on the way to the appointment I can get the answers needed so the doctor can formulate a helpful plan.

It all comes down to comfort. Yes, my daughter has know this doctor literally her whole life, but it’s only been in the last few months that we have had to see her more than just once a year for the yearly check-ups. My daughter is also a teen who read the rulebook that all teens secretly have that states after the age of 13 they must start to clam up and make it impossible for anyone to know what they really want or how they feel. I feel pretty lucky though, my girls actually talk to me. They like to show me what they are interested in (for the most part) and they are still ok with hanging out with me, especially when I am helping cats.

And on the subject of cats, they must be teens too, because they act exactly like them. We have 5 cats the currently reside at the hospital I work at. Two of them are old and feel the need to boss us around while the other 3 are young and allow us into their lives purely for the fact we feed them, and occasionally sit on the floor for them to sit on us. One cat in particular is the most “teen acting”. She feels the need to boss us around, leave her toys out, and actually plops down on whatever it is that may be taking our attention away from her . She does this though because she is comfortable with us. She doesn’t do this with strangers that walk in, she waits until we are alone working on something important. As I was sitting there today I wasn’t paying attention to her in the manner she felt I should have been and so she reached up with her paws, and promptly grabbed my jacket as she burrowed herself inside. It didn’t matter that she would have fallen off the counter had I not caught her. She got my attention and made me notice her.

Teens just like cats take a lot of work and energy, especially when they are comfortable with you and feel safe in your presence. The complexity that comes from these relationships is not knowing when you will spook them. The other day I said my eldest daughter should take on a task that I thought would help her, she thought about it long enough it overwhelmed her. All I have to do with my middle daughter is completement her on something she does and all of a sudden she is hiding out in her room because too much attention was given to her. We have a cat at the clinic that runs and hides if you come in but will come play with you when you calmly sit on the floor.

I know at one point way back in the “good old days” I was a teenager. I probably acted somewhat similar as my two teens do today. There were people I trusted with every secret, while others I would look at them like they were monsters if they even looked at me. My momma was always willing to let me hang out with her when I just didn’t want to do what all the other kids were doing. Being a mom now I can understand the worries and frustrations she might have had with the things I said and did. She had a great poker face, I would have never known she had any concerns when it came to me though she probably had plenty. I think she did what I am doing now. I am there for my kids and I am talking with God about them daily.

People open up when they feel comfortable with the person they are talking to. Comfort takes a lot of work. It isn’t a simple “hey how ya doing?” It’s a timeline of getting to know someone so that when you ask them “hey how ya doing?” you know if they are telling you the whole story or not. There are days when I would love to not have to hear about the characters in the latest game being played. I would really love not having to hear about the random fact about some fish in the ocean. I would love it, but if they didn’t involve me in these conversations I would miss them terribly, because there is comfort in knowing that I get to be a part of their comfort. Until next time:

Teenager: Noun, Someone who is ready for the zombie apocalypse but not ready for the math test tomorrow

A Whole New Year

As is tradition in our home (at least in the last few years when the kids cared enough to mandate it) we stayed up until midnight on New Year’s Eve. My hubby, the dogs and I really struggled with the late night waiting of the ball to drop but we did it. We are creatures of habit for sure, so when 10pm hit both of the dogs gave me the “it’s time for bed” look and then proceeded to walk back and forth from my room to the living room to make it known they were serious. My kids on the other hand were more than happy to be up and then stay up only because that one of the silly things pre-teens/teens do. We all know they need sleep but the concept is lost to them until you try waking them in the morning for something and your head is ripped from your neck.

This past year is luckily in the past. Not that it was a bad year. It actually wasn’t half bad. I was able to leave one part time job to make the other part time job a full time one. We had college graduations, beloved pastors and family members go to be with the Lord, we had trips to other states, school go back to normal schedules, new additions to the family by way of a furry little hamster. We had lows and highs, during the year, some that rocked me to my core while others sent my heart soaring. Our lives are meant to be an adventure.

While visiting my in-laws for Christmas they had a snow storm that was not a welcomed event. The area they live in doesn’t normally get snow and when it does it is usually the heavy wet stuff that turns slippery on the roads and causes branches to break from trees. It was so beautiful though. It made trees look magically and communities look like what you would see in pictures. My son could not wait to go play in it with the cousins and the dogs. My hubby couldn’t wait to shovel it off the driveway (he wasn’t excited really, it was a way to have peace and quiet from a loud house). I am one that would rather be warm than cold so I enjoyed it from the comfort of couch under a warm blanket.

This year (only being a couple days old) is promising to fill the snow order. We need it badly so this is a very good thing. I am excited to see what this year holds. I say this at the beginning of each year and it’s true. There are so many things to look forward to. I have stopped doing new year resolutions years ago. They don’t seem to serve much of a purpose other than to make a person feel bad if they don’t accomplish it. Goals should be set at anytime of the year. Entering into the new year is exciting, don’t get me wrong. I always get the feeling it’s like a clean slate, a new notebook. The anticipation of what can happen this year puts a little skip in my step.

My goals though have stayed consistent. Be a good person, get into the Bible daily, live as much of a healthy lifestyle as I can, guide my kids and love them through their rough spots, love my husband, enjoy the ride of life, see the beauty in the world around me, don’t watch the news, read good books, find an adventure. I also have the goals to work on that are not as glamourous: stop judging myself, stop with the negative self talk, don’t expect perfection from myself and others, take time to rest, don’t automatically criticize someone’s decisions if they are different than what you would do, be more open to possibilities.

You can’t fit these into a “new year’s resolution”. These must be ongoing goals that become habits. So instead of a resolution, a Bible verse to live by, a quote to memorize, a new hobby to try. This last year did have some trying times. Times that I should have found peace with reading the Bible and praying. The problem is my faith was hit, all things that I found natural with my faith suddenly made me question parts of it, and I still struggle with this. So I “started over” with just simple devotions in the morning, and I found a ring. It’s a simple ring but it has a mustard seed integrated into it. It’s a simple reminder to me that all I need is faith as small as a mustard seed. God will take care of the rest. There are days when I felt that is all I had, and I know there will be days this year where I will feel that again. The Bible tells me though with even that amount of faith I can move mountains.

This year will hold ups and downs, goods and bads. Every year does. That is where the adventure lies. The two options you have are to embrace it or stick your head in the sand. I plan to embrace it, because that is what I am driven to do. Until next time:

...."because you have so little faith.  Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, Move from here to there and it will move.  Nothing will be impossible for you".  (Jesus speaking to His disciples)  Matthew17: 20-21

Snow Perspective

We woke up this morning with some white stuff on the ground. Normally this is not unusual in the town we live in, but we are visiting family in a place that gets a lot of rain, not snow. It is still very beautiful, and peaceful, and serene as it falls from the heavens. It’s the perfect time to set down in front of the big picture windows and write.

As I sit here, in the other room my hubby and his dad are talking about the various passes that people have to drive over that have snow on them. My mother in law has already been in contact with the people at her church about if church will be cancelled today due to the 3-4 inches that have fallen. Security cameras have been looked at to see how bad it is coming down in our home town. The word “snow-megetton” is even being thrown around since snow hasn’t been seen at least in this town for a few years and it was such a heavy snow that tree branches fell and people had damage to their homes.

Kids got the joy of waking up this morning to a white morning. There will be a day of snow man making, snow ball throwing, and dads reminding them of how much driveway space there is for them to shovel. Snow has a special way of hyper driving the energy levels of kids and dogs alike. I don’t think I have seen my dogs zoom around as fast as they do in the snow. When the cousins come, and they will come and epic snowball war will happen.

When my hubby and I first moved to the town we live in, I hadn’t been around snow really at all. I didn’t drive well in it. I never really had to shovel it, and walking around in it was a new and dangerous experience in itself. I managed to find the joy in the unknown with experiences. Tim would have me stand under a big tree, he would kick it and all the snow from higher up would fall all around. On my way to the car one morning I learned that ice is not very forgiving. At the time we had a two wheel drive vehicle that we learned to drive in deep snow. I admit that I thought about snowlike my in-laws think about snow today. It’s pretty but lets cancel everything and stay home. I admit, as I look out the window I am thinking, thinking ”this isn’t so bad”, but I have way more experience now with snow now. My perspective has definitely changed, but with that change has also come respect for the white stuff and for the knowledge of how it can be difficult to get around for some people.

We have a beautIful winter wonderland outside. It is cold, it is wet, and it is going to be fun for the kids and the dogs. I am sure at some point when us adults stop fretting and worrying about the snow, we will see the magic of snowmen, and snowball fights and get out with the kids and play. Imagine if we played first before worried? This morning, I enjoyed before planning. I sat down with my Spark (https://referral.advocare.com/x/tE28zA) in hand and watched the snow fall. I got the dogs ready and threw them outside so that they could wrestle and zoom. The kids got their snow clothes on and ran out with them. The in-laws settled in for a quiet day at home.

I love that we each have our own experiences in life. They make us who we are. I would hope that because of the experiences we will grow and learn and not be fearful and hide. My perspective will never be the same as someone elses, but it will form me to be the person I am becoming. I hope that this Christmas season was joyful for those reading this. I am excited for the upcoming year and the adventures to be had. For the moment though, I have a snowman to build. Until next time:

When it snows, you have two choices shovel or make snow angels

Unknown

Why do I hurt?

You guys! I hurt and I mean in the I worked out too much and didn’t realize I did too much kind of way. I did my normal workout routine yesterday but had to add in a walk halfway through my day with three dogs we have at the clinic. Not really a big deal since I had my daughter there helping me but these dogs are trained sled dogs. They are young and they are strong. I had two dogs while the smaller one was walked separately. After a days worth of work and the extra walk it made for a tiring day in which I thought for sure I would crash from. Instead I was tired enough that I didn’t actually sleep that well, so today I was significantly more tired. Don’t get me wrong I love to work out, I love to push the limits of what my body can do and I thought that I listen to my body, but yesterday it didn’t tell me much of anything until I realized I was not moving as well as I should.

So when my hubby and I took our dogs for a walk there was a protest coming from the leg region. It was more of a scream that mellowed into a yell that moved into my whole body talking. I had heard a while ago that chocolate milk is wonderful for helping with sore muscles. Not sure I believe it since my body still feels the same but I got to have a yummy drink to try it out. I resorted to Tylenol and a lot of water.

No pain, no gain right? Exercising for me is a release. There are days when work is a bit more stressful. There are days when the family just doesn’t get along. There are days in which I don’t feel like myself without getting a workout in. Walking can only do so much. When there is a challenge to try something new, or get to a heavier weight the drive is what pushes me to go further. The outcome is more confidence and a stronger body and system. It drives me to want to be healthier for myself so then I can be there longer for my family.

Christmas is right around the corner. We are travelling to be around loved ones. We are trying to beat the storm that is threatening to come. We have planning and waiting. We have a bit of stress that comes with the unknown. I know for me I will release some stress by getting some movement in. I will challenge my body and work out the kinks of the last few days. Some people eat their way through stress, while others work more. I push my body to it’s limits and that means there are days where even the slightest movements hurt. The endorphins are worth it though. I am happier and more content. This Christmas season try and remember that we celebrate because of a birth that ultimately will save us from all of our pains and sorrows. Find your outlet to get through any stressors that come but enjoy the times you have with your loved ones. Until next time:

I will beat her.

I will train harder, I will eat cleaner

I know her weaknesses, I know her strengths. I have lost to her before

But not this time, she is going down

I have the advantage because I know her well

She is the Old Me

Will It Ruin Your Day?

When I was younger I would have moments in which I would get very upset. It could be over an injustice that happened between my siblings and I or the fac that I didn’t get to have the item I swore I wanted so badly and couldn’t live without. It really could have been about anything. I would try and hold onto my bad moods just so that I could make sure the people around me knew I wasn’t happy. Then my mom (probably out of being tired of my attitude) pulled me aside one day and plainly let me know that even though I wasn’t getting what I wanted it was my choice to let it ruin my day. I was told I had a choice, which I probably knew deep down but once my mom wisely brought it to the service I had to face it. I had to face the fact that for whatever reason I wasn’t going to get “x,y or z”. I could chose to make people not want to be around me because I was upset, or I could chose to let it go, and find my way back to a better day.

My kids (mainly my daughters) yesterday had to make this very choice. We have this nativity scene that is an advent calendar. We got this about two years ago and told the kids that they every third day (three kids) it was their turn to put the object of the day where it needed to go. My middle child likes to be different and go against the grain sometimes and so she does things like put the sheep up in the sky vs. where it belongs. My oldest likes order, after a discussion they agreed that if this would happen only one animal could be put in the sky, all the other animals needed to be placed where they go around the nativity scene. My middle child did not follow this agreement and an argument came from it.

We had plans made and places to go. We had to do them together. After the yelling match one girl went one way, one went the other and I was stuck in the middle trying to calm my nerves. Did this need a yelling match? Absolutely not, but this is what happened and so we needed to calm down from it. From that point on it was like I was listening to my mom again as the same words she said to me I was saying to my girls. I let them know they had to chose to let this moment ruin their day or they could move on from it and enjoy the day.

Happily they gave it a shot, we loaded into the car and heading to do the errands we had which included the library which is something they both wanted to get to. There are times when the wisdom of my momma is louder in my head. She was and still is a quiet woman, but a force to be reckoned with, especially when you are a kid determined to get her way. There are times when I think my kids took the rulebook and threw it out the window. They have challenged me as a momma in more ways then I ever thought I would be challenged, but I wouldn’t change it, because in the larger sense I needed to make my own choice. Do I allow these challenges to ruin my days as a momma or do I embrace them for what they are and chose to enjoy the moments that are always scattered in between the challenges? My family is full of people who but heads, get loud, and love each other fiercely. We pull together quicker than a hedgehog curling into a ball (it’s fast, trust me).

This Christmas we are doing our normal routine, with people that have changed over this last year. I am looking forward to Christmas Eve and the service at the church, even though I know one of my kids won’t be there. I am looking forward to Christmas morning in which my son with read the Christmas story from Luke and then we will open presents. Instead of it being at 7:30 in the morning it will be closer to 9 on the request of my middle child who loves to sleep in. We will visit family afterwards, getting there by packing up the car with all five of us, two crazy dogs and a hamster who I am sure will not like the choice we have made for her, but it’s an adventure for sure. We plan on the end of our trip having our oldest test for her driving permit so that she can start her own journey of driving and getting herself to the places she would like to go.

Each day we wake up, we get ourselves ready for the day, and we have to harness our thoughts to be more positive then negative. It is so much easier to just let our thoughts go where they will, but when we decide to look for the good, look for the positive and the beauty around us we will feel better, we will treat ourselves and those around us better. Our outlook will be more uplifting which will help us get through the days that are not easy to get through. This Christmas season, I hope that the stress of the season doesn’t overpower the reason for the season. We are celebrating a birth! We are rejoicing with the angels! We have been given a gift that can’t be forgotten about, so let’s chose to focus on the good, and the joy that comes with it. Until next time:

And behold, and angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.  Then the angel said to them,  "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger"  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
         "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"    Luke 2:9-14

Will They Ever Learn?

We had just sat down for dinner, we were having our normal loud family dinner talks (since we don’t really know how to be quiet in this house). As dinner progress we heard a commotion in the kitchen. Charlie our “puppy” decided once again to take on our cat Lilly. As Charlie tries to back her into a corner, Lilly fights back with hissing and slapping, in which Charlie thinks is playtime. Charlie only backs down when the actual claws come out. This is a scene that happens more often than not in our house. Lilly leaves the comfort of whatever room she is in, gets noticed usually by Charlie first and then Jorj and then all bets are off. Lilly always wins. Charlie always gets her nose slapped and will probably never learn.

This seems to be a sequence that happens with dogs and skunks except that usually the outcome in much more stinky. I know sometimes the dog wins but usually the skunk runs off as the scent of “victory” is left behind. Some dogs are granted access inside the house only to be thrown into the nearest bathroom to be hosed down with the magical skunk spray removal. Owners (including myself the first time) naively think that their beloved pet will learn from this stinky mistake, until the next time it happens.

I was sitting on the couch the other day when my son decided to play a “prank” on his older sister. Sadly of my three kids these two don’t get along very well. Most days they tolerate each other, but for the most part if there is going to be an argument in the house it will be between these two. My daughter was outside collecting sticks for a project she was doing. My son decided it would be fun to hold the door shut when he saw that she was coming in. This didn’t turn out very well, she got in, yelled at him and huffed away. This is not a new thing, and you would think my son would learn, but he has way too much mischief to stop.

We must all be insane in this house, since even the great Albert Einstein defined it as doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. My dogs will never learn to leave the cat alone. Dogs and even some cats can’t seem to learn when you mess with a skunk you are going to get sprayed. My son will always do something to annoy his sister and his sister will always have a quick comeback to that annoyance. My hubby will always try and fix things and I will always assume that he will try and fix any problem that is said out loud. Teenagers will always think that they are right, and at least for me I will look at them and think I used to be that way too.

I think on some levels we will learn. We will grow and stop doing the stupid things we did. Sometimes it’s fun not to “learn from the experience”. If Charlie the pup could talk she would probably tell us how fun it is to chase and bug the cat. When the skunk puts up a fight or starts running I bet every dog out there thinks “YES let’s go!” For the rest of us, maturity will help us to learn, experiences will help us to learn, but we can probably say that we actually did learn. Until next time:

Some of the best lessons we ever learn were learned from past mistakes. The error of the past is the wisdom and success of the future.

Dale Turner

Make Your Bed

When I was little my mom used to tell me to make my bed. I hated to do it because I figured I would just be using it again in a few hours so what’s the point? I had better things to do like play outside, play down the street, basically just get out of the house so that I wouldn’t be asked to do silly things like make my bed. I carried that train of thought with my all through my school days until I moved away and went to college. At that point I had to share a room with a gal who was a bit more messy than I was and though it didn’t bother me a great deal it made me see that getting myself a bit more motivated to do even the smallest things, helped with the bigger things.

In my last couple of years in college I moved in with a set of girls that I loved. We were all different but that was exactly what helped us get along so well. School was getting to the more difficult stage when I was getting ready to graduate and I had to really focus on the projects and goals I had to accomplish, and at times I was a bit overwhelmed. I had read somewhere that if you just made your bed in the morning that simple task would help you feel accomplished throughout the day. Let me tell you it helped me. I was able to get up get ready for the day, and make my bed. I finished a small simple task. That helped me to move to the next task I needed to get done, and then the next and so on. I would get home from campus and go into my room knowing that at least in there I had control of what it looked like, what was in there and how things looked. Chaos could be going on right outside my door, but I could handle it better because there was order in my room.

Fast forward to married/family life. I love my family to no end. They are my world, but I still have to remind myself not to throw them out on their kesters because they once again left earrings on the coffee table, headphones on the kitchen counter, painting supplies on the radio and hand tools in the bathroom. Every morning as part of my routine I make our bed. When I need to get to a quiet place with some order I head to my bedroom. There is always noise and activity going on in our home and I love that our home is full of laughter, love and (not that I love this part) some raised voices. I accomplished a small task every morning, and that helps propel me into accomplishing more tasks throughout the day.

One day I know my kids will be on their own. They will have their own places to live and places to thrive. I know they will take some things they were taught with them, other lessons will be lost into oblivion. With how many times I asked them to clean their rooms and make their beds I hope they will see it wasn’t just because I wanted a clean house. When a small task is accomplished, it can give you a since of pride. When I went through a stage of my life when panic attacks were a constant, I had to find something I could control. I never knew when the attacks would hit, and at the time I didn’t really understand the importance of breathing through them, researching them so that I could have a small grasp at pushing through one because I knew what I was feeling wasn’t rational thoughts. It was a hard time, trying to be normal, and do normal things while being in a state of uncertainty. I got help, I left the place that ultimately was the start of the problem, but I learned to from the experience that we as individuals need something(s) that we can control. Something that we can check off that we did that in some way gave us normalcy for our day.

Mine was making sure I had a spot in my house in which I could escape to when I felt overwhelmed, when I needed peace, when I needed to be by myself for a bit. I needed to have a non-chaotic place and my bedroom became that once again. Try making your bed each morning, clear off your dresser and dust it, vacuum a rug, find a mundane everyday chore that can be done and just do it. It may not seem like it helps but if you go out and do your day, and nothing goes the way you planned, or the projects don’t get all the way done like you thought they should, you can come home knowing you got at least one thing done. It does help. It’s simple, but it may keep you from going crazy especially with the Christmas season in our mist. Until next time:

Making your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity and a greater sense of well-being.

Charles Duhigg

How Important Is It?

While on our walk this morning my hubby and I were talking about our youngest and how he can remember everything there is to remember about Fortnite even to the extent when the next big event will be and what he’ll have to do to make sure he has his computer time scheduled to be there for it. It’s an amazing thing how the brain works, even better how the memory works. Last night our youngest had his chore of the dishes to do. This job includes wiping down the counters, stove, and making sure that all of the dishes are collected and washed. This morning when we got back from our walk, and our son got up for the day, we had him wash the counters, stove and collect the dirty dishes that were missed from the night before.

Selective memory at it’s best. The dishes were not important to him and so they did not get done completely. Even threatening to take away some of his allowance didn’t change the fact that the chore is still not getting finished. It’s not just him that has the selective memory or hearing for that matter. Most people will do what is the highest priority to them first especially when it benefits them. I have learned the hard way when someone doesn’t see it as important they will do what they can to stall or find a way not to do what it is that is asked of them. Sadly this leaves the tasks for others to do.

This past week it was very difficult for me to get motivated to do my workouts. It’s not that I didn’t want to do them. I actually feel better after they are done, but it was the motivation to set up my mat, get the weights out and turn on the app I use. I had some nights that had been a bit more restless, and days where I doubted the job I was doing. That leaked into the activities I held in high importance. I was tired, but in a worn down type of way, I was allowing the worry that usually resides in the back of my mind to come to the surface, and I was letting the way others act get in the way of my joy. You guys, I really get a lot of joy out of working out. There is a routine call the flamingo in which you do Yoga moves all using one leg at a time. There is a lot of balance that goes into this routine, and a lot of strength required from each leg. It is a challenge, it’s rewarding when you can get through the whole routine without falling (I almost made it through one time), and it’s one that if you really get into it makes you realize how cool your body really is.

I could have chosen to just sit around until I had to go to work. I could have taken a break from working out for the week. I had to evaluate how important the time I used for working out was to me. Was it worth it to give it up? My priority had to be on keeping myself normalized so that I could face the abnormal around me. Devotions, working out, intermitted fasting, and reading books all keep me grounded. My family and my work are a normal part of my life but it’s the crazy part. I wouldn’t change it but by doing my activities that are about me, I can face the ones that include me.

The Christmas season is here. This is the first week of December and it has been declared by my middle daughter that now we can actually start talking about Christmas. The lights have already been put up, and in some homes the tree has too. The poor delivery guys are gearing up for all of the packages that need to be delivered. All I can think about is, what is important to me in this holiday season? What is my priority and do I have a selective memory/hearing problem? I can feel the rush of trying to get the shopping done (though every January I pledge to start my shopping for Christmas early). I can feel the anticipation of what the work Christmas parties will be like. I can hope that my kids will remember that the real reason for the Christmas season is Christ, and I can chose to pound it into their heads or show them in the actions I show them. I look forward to the Christmas Eve services at church just so that I can sing/cry my way through Silent Night while holding a battery operated candle.

How important is it to take care of yourself? Very! How important is it to do your job and do it well, whether it’s dishes or surgery? So very important. How important is it to show love through actions and words? As important as it is to breathe. Until next time:

So keep your head high, keep your chin up, and most importantly, keep smiling, because life’s a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about.

Marillyn Monroe

Did this just happen?

This past week my middle child turned another year older, my hubby did as well and we celebrated another year married. All in the timeframe of a week. We also had Thanksgiving thrown into the mix because why not?

When I was growing up we would joke about the fact that April was busier than the holidays purely for the fact that almost everyone in the family had a birthday in April. This has shifted to November/December months for my family now. While we enjoy celebrating the birthdays and the holidays it also means there is more planning, more baking and more socializing. All of these are good things but when they come at you all at once in a time span of a 2 month period it can be a little much for a semi-introvert like myself.

This past week my wonderful hubby surprised me with a get away to a hotel in town. We both work, and the kids were home for the Thanksgiving break so he knew we had to do something local. The fact that he planned it is not all too weird, he likes to do these little getaways for me. I forget that he knows me better than I know myself sometimes. I have been in a kind of stressed state in which I walk the line sometimes on being overwhelmed. So he planned a hotel stay with take out Chinese food. There was a hot tub in the room which made the night so much nicer. We were able to talk, we were able to discuss family life, work like, our lives without the kids having to have our attention. It was a reset button for me, so that I could move forward less on the verge of stressing out.

I absolutely love the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. My middle daughter would say that the Christmas music needs to wait until at least December but I find myself craving it, especially when it’s sung at church. I get the chance to look beyond myself and see that there is more to life than work, and stress, and family and life issues. There is a celebration of life! Birthdays help with this each time they come around, but the birthday for Christmas reminds me that I don’t have to have life all together, I can just be me, trusting that Christ has me figured out and knows what my future holds. That is peace in times of chaos. Celebrating does bring a in the fact that need that baking needs to happen! Baking: the smells, the licks of the spoons and the beaters, the new recipes working out, I just get so excited to bake.

This year is no different. My eldest daughter had me bake a cake, which included cake pops. My middle child wanted Oreo bark and a cake for her birthday that looked like it was made out of stone. My youngest suggested pumpkin bread which was made but just had to have pumpkin frosting, and the leftover pumpkin turned into pumpkin muffins and pumpkin cheesecake. I “accidentally” bought too much cream cheese so that turned into Oreo cheesecake bites covered in chocolate. There is still the cinnamon rolls, the toffee, and the fudge. Sadly with all the baking, it can’t all be eaten by my family and I so my co-workers, and friends will have to help.

This past weekend we had friends drive through our small town so we planned a dinner with them and their kids. I didn’t have much time to bake, but that didn’t stop the homemade salsa and street tacos from being made up. This is the first of many little gatherings, I always look forward to them until the day of and the my inner introvert comes out and tries to make excuses as to why we should not be social. This has always been the case with me until the friends come and then I enjoy every minute with them . I love the thought of being a host, until I have to do it, funny how that is. We had a good visit, the tacos went over well and they were able to get a homemade meal which always helps when eating out happens more on the road.

December is going to go by quick. The kids will go back to school for maybe two weeks before they are out for two weeks. We will travel, and people will travel to us. Christmas parties will happen at our respective jobs and the kids will have some festivities at school. January will come sooner than what we anticipate. So the hope is that each moment is experienced and enjoyed. There is a hope that the recipes all turn out well and if they don’t that they are tried again with better results. Hope is high that when we get together with our friends and families that we enjoy each others company, that no one gets sick and that touchy subjects get left out in the cold. Until next time:

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him. Psalms 28:7

So Very Thankful

This week made me wonder what it was that I was really thankful for. Actually it’s been longer than this week but since Thanksgiving falls within the next few hours I thought I would spout out what makes me so joy filled and thankful.

My faith is my foundation, it has kept me from having anxiety run full force. There is a peace in that. There is a joy in laying down my worries and fears at the feet of Christ. I get to have peace and a sense of Thanksgiving always. There are many sacrifices, but they are what bring me to my knees in prayer. The blessings drop me to my knees as well.

A few weeks back a family member had to start chemotherapy. Not something I should be thankful for, but I am so very thankful that the cancer was found and that treatments could be started. I am in awe of the power of the faith she has and through all of this she shines for the Lord and pushes on.

I am thankful for the wise women that have surrounded me. We lean on each other, laugh together, talk, pray, love each other and our families. We push each other to be better. I could not imagine going through life without “my girls”. They are fellow mommas, a sister who is a solid foundation, grandmas, wise friends, and prayer warriors.

Have I ever said how awesome my hubby and kids are? We are for from perfect, we are learning to grow together. Stress and worry cause grey hairs to flow. My idea of how my kids would grow up has been blown out of the water, but they were brought up with a firm foundation. We have each other. It is crazy how having 4 humans and 3 animals can drive me to insanity and calm me all in the same scenario. I couldn’t ask for a better family.

Have you ever had a job that you love going to? I get to go every day to a job that fills me with a sense of pride, I don’t see it as a burden to show up. It’s not always easy, there are ups and downs. There are snuggles with cats and twirling of floppy ears. The squak of a macaw is mixed with the squeak of a Guinea pig. I get to work with people I consider family, and sometimes I see them more than my actual family. We laugh together, cry together and stand up for each other.

Sometimes when life gets crazy and a bit overwhelming taking a step back and a big deep breath, can help, but when you start to count your blessings you can start to see all the things you can be thankful for. This morning I woke up, the sun was shining, the dogs were cuddled in between us, and I was warm. Simple blessings that are welcomed in a life that isn’t always so simple. What are you thankful for? Until next time:

Be cheerful no matter what;  thank God no matter what happens.  This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.  1 Thessalonians 5:15-18 MSG

In the Blink of an Eye

In the blink of an eye, or a least in the quiver of an eyelid my dog Charlie was let out of her kennel, was in between my hubby and I and snuggled under the blankets with my neck as her pillow. She was so happy. She is a simple dog, feed her, love her, play with her and let her snuggle in and she will love you until you come home from work in scrubs. Then all bets are off.

In the blink of an eye the weather in the southern part of the state I live in goes from beautiful, warm, sunny days that beckon you to go do something, anything really outside. We woke up this morning to 18 degrees. I have a blanket on my bed that is so heavy when I try and pull it up to the headboard in the morning (to just make my bed) I have to be careful not to punch myself in the face if I accidently loose my hold on it. My sweet hubby decided one day to dig it out of the hope chest so that we could have some extra warmth. You guys, this thing is a homemade quilt he made with his grandma that is all denim. It’s the original weighted blanket. Add flannel to the mix and you do not move, but I stay warm, and for my hubby if he doesn’t have to listen to me whine about being cold he’s happy.

In the blink of an eye an illness can escalate to hospitalization and worry as family watches their loved one go through tests and scans and all sorts of procedures to find out what happened. It’s scary and when the person gets to go home the worry doesn’t stop, but the joy of going home helps ease the load somewhat. Over the last week there have been phone calls and texts from different people and families telling of worrisome illnesses and problems that need prayer. As the recipient of the calls and texts you feel somewhat helpless in what to do. If you believe in the power of prayer (which I do) you continue praying. There is a sense of wanting to do more physically though. Bringing food, holding a hand, watching a child, something to ease the load for the person going through the ordeal. In a blink of an eye, all the things that seemed important in the moment get shoved aside to try and help the person in need.

In the blink of an eye, the leaves fall the Christmas decorations a put up, the baking starts and people start to realize how close the holiday is and how little they have prepared themselves for it. I absolutely love the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. I absolutely hate having to shop for them. Thanksgiving is easier of course because it’s about getting the right sized turkey and making sure we have a paper bag big enough to cook it in. Christmas though, the whole meaning of it seems to get lost in the commercialism of it. I am not going to get on a soapbox other than to say this. Spend time with your loved ones, instead of stressing out over the matter of what to get them. I can’t tell you what I received as gifts over the years as much as I can tell you about the trip to California with my family, the snow sledding day we had last year, the day we spend going out to the woods to get the Christmas tree. Material things will get forgotten, memories and the joy of time spent with loved ones will last.

In the blink of an eye, the year flies by, the kids are a year older, the grey hair has decided to show up again, the car starts acting weird, the pumpkin you have been trying to use up finally gets used. How are you dealing with the happenings of life? Do you stick you head in the sand (like I have wanted to do so many times), or do you face things as they come. Do you enjoy the moments, the snuggles the playtimes and the “real talks” with your teens? Do you worry and fret, or do you pray and continuously hand your worries over to the Lord. In the blink of any eye, can seem so quick when you look back, when you are in the moment it can seem like an time stands still. For joyous occasions what a joy to have time stand still, stamp those memories in your heart and use those times for when the soul needs rest. Until next time:

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news that will cause great JOY for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.
Luke 2: 10-12

Baking season!

It’s a strange thing that happens inside my brain. I go into baking mode from November 1st, through Christmas. I dig out old recipes and find new ones on Pinterest. It is something about the weather and the ability to make so many different treats from breads to candies all in the spirit of the seasons.

This year a friend of mine gave my five pumpkins. Three of them went to the kids for Jack o’ Lanterns but the other two, they were made into pumpkin muffins, breads and rolls all with a touch of cheesecake or frosting on them to help add to the appeal. I love putting together fun treats and sharing them with those around me. Now if only I could get my family to jump on board and let me spend the whole weekend baking while they clean the dishes for a part of the baked goods.

When I was younger it was a treat to bake. We would usually pull out a recipe or two from our Great Aunt Lila’s stash and try and re-create what she probably could make blindfolded. One such recipe was for cinnamon rolls. Through the eyes of a young child all the steps that were needed to make the rolls seemed daunting. From getting the dough ready to having to wait the hour plus to let it rise. Then making sure to get the proper amount of filling made so that when the rolls are finally done the are oozing with cinnamon sugar goodness. Then when the task of making the rolls was done preparing the frosting that is smeared on top of each roll, oh man, it seemed so hard back then, but now it’s a way to spend time doing something you love.

Cookies were another treat we would make but honestly half that batter would end up in our bellies before getting baked into cookies. Whoever said don’t eat cookie batter probably just wanted to keep all the batter to themselves. As a grown up I am so much more responsible when it comes to raw eggs and batter, if the kids don’t see me eating it, all the better, then I don’t have to explain why they can’t =).

Speaking of the kids, you know what brings a family together when it’s cold outside? The smell of cookies in the oven and the invitation to help make Oreo bark, chocolate truffles, and pudding. It’s true what “they” say if you work for it you will appreciate it better. I usually let the kids pick one thing they want to make and then let them at it. One of my daughters loves making Oreo bark. When I asked if she wanted help crushing the Oreos she said no with a twinkle in her eye as she grabs the rolling pin and a gallon bag. The rule is: you make it you have to share but you get the first and last bite.

My son is at the stage where if it looks like it will taste good he wants to try it. Once he asked to have us buy him some orange marmalade because of a video he watched. Needless to say we still have that jar, and it is missing one spoonful from it. What does one do with marmalade anyways? His latest thing he wanted to try was pumpkin bread. Great! As I said earlier I have pumpkin. So I thought, why not do muffins instead and swirl in some cheesecake? He helped me make them, but then refused to try them because of the cheesecake and the fact that they were not “bread” sigh….

Did you know that pumpkin bread had pumpkin in it? I did in fact have to inform my son that it did, so when I did make the bread I made him try it. When he stated he didn’t like it, I suggested trying it with the pumpkin frosting I made, guess what? He loves pumpkin bread now, with a hefty dose of frosting on top of course.

My oldest is too cool for school so when it comes to baking with her, well I have to convince her that she should help out. I also have to convince her that exact measurements are always needed. I mean when a cup of chocolate chips is called for, it really is ok to add more than that. Same idea when it comes to cinnamon and sugar, frosting, or cheesecake. If you ever want to annoy her just start eating the batter before she is ready to cook it. I still have a lot to train her on I know. Baking is all about the process, the taste testing (to make sure the product is not poisoned of course ;)), the baking, the eating of the final product.

What better way to warm up the house than using the oven. What better way to spread joy than to share what you have made with others. I know my brain is probably remembering back to when I was a kid and the joy that came from baking. I love that I get to bake now and share the joy with my kids, share the goodies with others and create editable joy. I am excited for Thanksgiving to come, I will get to finally use up all my pumpkin. What are some of your favorite baking past times? What are some of your favorite recipes? Until next time:

Homemade with love, in other words I liked the spoon and kept using it.

Don’t be afraid to stand out

Weekends are for doing things with the family and getting stuff done that doesn’t get done during the week, at least in my family this is the case. Normally my son has all sorts of plans for things to do:

  • Go to the movies
  • Go to the dirt bike trails at the local park
  • Reserve the escape room
  • Play video games all day
  • Make a cake
  • Make pumpkin bread
  • Play a board game

The lists can go on and on. We try our hardest to do most things he suggests because we don’t get to spend a lot of time together during the week and yes, I admit he is the youngest and at times I feel bad for him because he gets thrown into the semi-adult/adult world with having two older sisters and his parents mainly who he is around.

This week it was going to the movies. He wanted to see the movie “Clifford, the big red dog”. While we were in the car I asked him why this movie and he just said “because I liked the book when I was a kid”. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the movie, but figured it would be fun to see and spend some time with my little man. So with the biggest bag of popcorn and the largest slushy we could get we could get we found our seats and settled in for the hour plus movie

I forget sometimes (ok a lot of times) what it means to be a kid. This was a fun movie and actually it had a good lesson about standing up for yourself even when you’re scared or the situation is hard. A lesson I needed to hear for sure, I just didn’t think it would come from a movie about a bright red dog. Tyler and I don’t spend as much time as I would like together because to be truthful I suck at computer games and he is really good at them so he plays them a lot. I tend to sit on the sidelines and listen in to the conversations he has with is friends and the laughter that is shared. The movie “forced” me to sit and enjoy. I laughed and shed a tear or two and I did it with my boy. So about that lesson though, life isn’t always easy. Standing out and being different usually makes people uncomfortable. We like things to be the same, for people to act the way we feel they should act.

I feel like I have had to face more things in this last year that I didn’t think I would have to face. Some of it I deal with and move on. It’s when there is something so out of the norm for me, it seems to stick with me and stays in the back of my mind, causing my already almost full cup to completely spill over when I stop to think about it. I have wonderful friends and family that try and help when I feel overwhelmed, but to be honest, the thing that hits me the most is change, that and the fear of the unknown. Then a lesson is taught to me from a cute little movie my son wanted me to see with him.

Just because something is different and out of the norm, it doesn’t mean that we should force it into conforming to what we want it to be. Being different is one of the wonderful things about being who we are. When someone doesn’t like it, it’s because they are afraid of what they don’t know. I admit I fall into this trap, even though when I was younger I made it a point to stand out. I stood for what I believed in, I fought for who I thought was the underdog, when someone told me I couldn’t do something I would do it. I like to think I haven’t changed much from back then but I know that now I do these things but in more subdued ways. The one with the loudest voice isn’t the one we should always listen to. God usually whispers when He is trying to get our attention, if anything He should be the only one we listen to.

Stand out and be different. Enjoy the ride of life, but be smart about it, and above all know there is a time for standing out, and a time to ride out what comes your way. Until next time:

...and these are but the outer fringe of His works; how faint the whisper we hear of Him!  Who then can understand the thunder of His power?   Job 26:14

What’s a little grey?

I was looking at pictures of myself lately and I noticed a bit more grey than what I thought I had. Not that this is a bad thing, it’s just a bit shocking since the mirror doesn’t show as much as pictures do if that makes sense? It could be that in some of these pictures I was with my daughter who doesn’t have a bit of grey, and she is significantly younger than me, which tells my brain that maybe just maybe I might be getting older.

With age comes beauty right? I think with age comes the ability to see the beauty inside. Flipping through the pictures in my phone I see the aging process happen and I love the outcome of the process. Yes I will probably still dye my hair, mainly because it’s fun, but it helps a little with my self care. I already feel tired and old, especially after a long week at work, I don’t need to look the part. I have actually seen more Instagram posts of people embracing the grey and good for them, they look adorable and beautiful.

Then there is the pug that is all the rage with the young people Noodles I think is his name. The gentleman that owns him goes onto his social media sites, and basically plans his day based on what his pug does. Now this is sweet in itself since the pug is older and this is probably a way for the owner to cope with the fact that Noodle may not be around much longer. The way it works though is this sweet, older, greying pug is placed on his bed or on a surface, if he stands and tries to get around it will be a productive day. If Mr. Noodles decides to just lay there and look cute the day will be a rest day. I really think there is something here, I mean I have said it in past posts, that we really should start acting like our dogs. This owner just took it a step further and showed us what that meant. Seriously though, maybe we should take the hint and follow our dogs examples more, plus you ever notice how endearing our pets looks when the grey sneaks into their muzzles?

Charlie our dog has no grey anywhere on her, she is pure white with a brown spot here and there on her body. She is a cuddle bug and full of energy. She loves to prance around the house when she has something in her mouth. The girl cannot lie! We know by her prance that we should go looking into her mouth to dig out whatever it is she picked up. Luckily lately it’s the random leaf that was found on the ground. She is pure innocent, wrapped in a bottle rocket of energy. She is the epitome of pure joy. She wasn’t always that way, but from where she was a year ago, to what she is today is amazing! So what if we were to mix the energy and the joy of Charlie with the contentment of Noodles? I don’t think we need a post to determine what way we should go.

What would it look like to be content with you life, waking up each morning deciding to live life with joy? I am not the same person I was when I was 20 or even 30, thankfully. When I have conversations with my daughters I get a glimpse of what my mentality was at their age. Going grey means I have grown up. I have had many more experiences and I have matured. This doesn’t mean I can’t have the childlike innocence like Charlie my dog has. There is just knowledge behind it now. Adventures cause me to get all gitty inside, but if there is a day that I can curl up under a blanket and read I will take that too. I chose joy on most days. Hardships in life try and take that from me, watching my kids make choices I don’t fully understand causes more greys to pop out. Hearing about friends being sick or getting hurt can put a kink in the joy, but then I remember that I am not in control. I need to protect the joy I have, get on my knees and speak to the One that ultimately is in control of everything. Grey can be covered (if you want to). Joy comes from finding the peace from knowing you don’t have to be in control. Until next time:

Negativity is contagious. Unhappiness is contagious. Fear is contagious. But so is happiness. So is optimism. So is love. Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you. And strive to be a reflection of what you want to receive.

Michelle C. Clark

Made to be Broken

Oh the weekend! I love when I get to Saturday. All week long, it’s go, go, go. We wake up early and go to bed late. Saturday though, we sleep in and take our time to get going for the day. It’s something to look forward to for sure. When it’s all said and done though, it’s about the routine.

Morning routines are what set us up for the day. In our home the hubby and I head out early every morning to take the dogs for a walk. When the alarm goes off the dogs know. They wake up, stretch and excitedly anticipate the journey ahead. Of course since they sleep with us, this means that not only did the alarm wake us up but the dogs movements as well. I am not sure anyone can sleep through that. We mix up where we go on our walks but I am sure the dogs know the way even without us. The coffee has a timer, the bed always gets made when we get home from the walk. Even the kids have a routine for the weekdays. It’s when the routine gets shifted that the day gets out of control

But the weekends! It is so nice to get out of the normal. We can have plans, or not. We can chose to sit on the couch all day watching the rain while reading a book, or plan an outing with the family that keeps us away from the house all day. It’s having the freedom to do what we would like to do. My favorite part of the weekends though is the quiet time. The girls sleep in usually and Tyler does his own thing, the time is mine. Since the hubby has perfected the coupon shopping thing he does his morning shopping sprees to stock us up for the week. So it’s me time. I love getting the devotions done, reading the Bible, talking with God (I really should do that more often). I love reading my books and writing about the random thoughts that pop in my head.

It’s at these moments that I can prepare for the day. On this past Saturday, it was raining outside, so I plopped down in my favorite chair to catch up on the week. I sent out emails, got our budget updated and there were many attempts from the dogs (some that were successful) to get me to play with them. My neighbor texted, and even the hubby and I talked about the schedule for the upcoming week. All things that are hard to get accomplished throughout the week.

In a house with loud people, and animals, with a job that is a constant go, it is so important for me to have the quiet. I can be me, and let down the constant go mentality to just be me. There is so much thrown at me during the craziness of the week if I didn’t have the weekends to unwind I don’t think I would keep my sanity.

And so as I sat and did what I did, I got myself ready for the day. As the girls woke and the hubby left to shop I was ready. I was grounded, I was focused on what the days ahead had for me. Amazing how productive that made me, and it was fun! I was able to take the pumpkins and make pumpkin puree for the bread my sweet son wanted. Added bonus: pumpkin seeds! I made snacks for the week and when it was time for dinner I was on a roll and that got done too. My kids had a day to just do what they wanted to do, and my hubby was able to clean up the yard of all the fall leaves before the wet weather set in. Routines are nice, but they are made to be broken when needed. Weekends definitely fall into the “when needed” category. So I say break the routine, ground yourself, enjoy the things around you and bask in the joy of the moment. Until next time:

If you want to be HAPPY, you have to be happy on purpose. When you wake up in the morning, you can’t just wait to see what kind of day you’ll have. You have to decide what kind of day you’ll have.

Joel Osteen

Through the eyes of Love

I feel so cynical sometimes.

Do you ever get that feeling? It usually happens to me right around the time that I have been doing too much. I start to get judgmental and start to see people in a more negative light. It also happens more when I set expectations up for myself and the people around me, and then get upset when they don’t meet those expectations. How fair is it to them, especially when they don’t know that I have done this.

A friend of mine texted me one last week and said “hey let’s have dinner tomorrow night!” We met up at an Italian restaurant and proceeded for the following two hours to talk and eat. We talked about family and life in general. We didn’t try and solve life’s problems we just talked about them and got ourselves out of the tunnel vision life we were in. I didn’t realize until that point that I had been drowning in the worries that were in the back of my mind, the overwhelming schedule that I had had, and that I just didn’t get out enough with my friends. That night I was able to breath and take a step back from the judging and the cynicism and just enjoy. Two and a half hours later, the waitress we had was even getting into the conversation, we laughed, we cried a little and then when my friend left the table for a little bit I slipped the waitress the money for the meal because even though my friend didn’t know this she helped me out of my funk.

To be honest I would love to bottle up that feeling of just letting go, and just being in the moment but I think instead I could get that same feeling if I were just to look at people and treat people as if they were all my closest friends. What if instead of the judgement we changed our focus and saw the actions of people as simply them trying to do the best they can do in the moment and circumstances that they are in? This is a hard pill to swallow. We are so used to assuming the worst in those we encounter, and sometimes it is because we feel we have good reason to do this.

When Jesus was with us on this earth He would be surrounded by every day average people, but there would also be the sick, the people with questionable jobs and backgrounds, the outcasts. He had eyes of love and compassion for the people. Yes He would tell them to repent to turn away from the bad they were doing but He also healed them and listened to them. Oh how our world would be different if we tried to see people’s hearts, if we tried to love and respect each other. It gets so tiring trying to fit people into boxes that we have made for them.

I am so guilty of this, I want people the way I want them! If they just fit into the picture and expectations I have for them life would so much better. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! People are who they are because of the experiences and trials they have had in their lives. I am surprised all the time by people who I have judged one way to actually be totally different. Think of the person that dresses a certain way but once you start talking to them they are so different than what their appearance would say. Think of the group of people that always gets a bad rap but then it ends up only being a select few that have caused the stir in the first place.

Rose colored glasses are said to be used as a joke, but what if we actually had special glasses that we used to look at people. We would be able to look past the appearance and the walls that were put up and see the real person inside. What would happen if we looked at ourselves with those same glasses. When we are our own worst critics, we so easily criticize those around us to make ourselves feel better. Replace criticism with hope, even joy and we will see a change in our outlook on life and others. Until next time:

And suddenly you just know, it’s time to start something new, and trust the magic of happiness and joy.

Simple, but Powerful

I got to wake up this morning with Jorj snuggling my feet, and Charlie in between my hubby and I snuggled in as happy as can be. My two dogs get to live their lives knowing they are loved and cherished. Saturdays are made for sleeping in, and for our standards we did. By 7:30am we were up, Jorj had his medications (he’s an epileptic), Charlie had her sweater on (she has a layer of fur, and it gets cold here) and we were geared up and ready for our morning walk. It is amazing what a simple walk can do! This morning there was moisture in the air, it was a crisp and refreshing. As we were walking along the rain started to fall, slow and misty at first, then turning into bigger droplets that soaked my hair and made us realize that turning back was a good option, until we saw the rainbow. At first it was a half rainbow barely there, but as we turned to follow the road towards it, the rainbow became full. The colors were so vibrant and clear, the sky inside the rainbow arc was lighter than the sky outside of the arc. The rain came in gentle waves of sprinkles to bigger droplets. As we kept walking the second rainbow appeared, not as vibrant as the original but still as beautiful.

What a way to start the day! Thank you God for the beauty of the moment! As we stopped to take the pictures the horses that were in the pasture came out to say “Hi!” Jorj is such an easy going guy that he just let them do their thing, as Charlie decided to take on every single one of the horses, which luckily she couldn’t do very well, thank you fence line and calm horses. We headed back wet from the rain, but filled with joy for the day.

Once home I received a text from a dear friend of mine. She has three dogs that love to hunt, love to play and love to be around the family. One of the dogs though is in hospice care and doing well with the treatments she is getting. I got this text and a picture. It brought tears to my eyes because my friend’s dog is doing what she loves to do, yes it may be the last time she does the hunt but for the moment she is out in the woods, with her owner and the other dogs enjoying life. The picture was of her in a field, she is focused and doing what a hunting dog does. I wrote back to my friend telling her how wonderful it is that she and her hubby said yes to letting there sweet dog go. There is always the fears and worries that lay in the back of our minds about the “what if’s?” These worries and fears would be there if their dog was laying on the couch or out in the fields.

I was sad about the “last time” comment because it might actually be true, but it was the joy that Katie got to do what she loves that brought tears to my eyes. How many times do I not do what I would love to do because of worries and fears that overturn the anticipation of the thing I want to do. I have enough worries and fears to fill a dump truck, but I also have learned that the joy of trusting that God is in control overpowers the dump truck. Over the years I have gone places and tried new adventures all based on the fact that I will not let fear rule what I do.

I have to force worries away when it comes to my kids, with what they go through on a daily basis in school, on the internet in our home. I understand now why people who have already gone through the teenage years really don’t have the words to describe the process to newbie moms going into the teen years with their kids. I remind myself daily that I need to find the joy in everyday encounters and conversations I have with my kids. They want to talk to me about their interests, and with some encouragement they still do activities with the family.

It’s the simple I am noticing brings the most joy. A walk in the rain that brings you to a double rainbow. Horses that come out to say hello, and dogs who are happy to snuggle in or grab a toy for a game of tug o war. A simple text from a friend letting me see that her dog gets to enjoy life, and that they can let her do it because she is comfortable. Making a cake for my oldest child’s birthday. Sitting on the couch as the rain falls and the family starts to wake up. It’s hard to not let life get in the way of the simple, but even that is a choice, that once made is rest for the soul. Until next time:

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.  Matthew 11:28-30

The Barn

So many things happen in a barn, traditionally it’s a place to house farm animals, and their food and supplies needed to keep them healthy and alive. We know barns to be the big, sometimes red, sometimes not but they are an iconic part of life in the country.

This past weekend I was able to go to a friend’s wedding. She decided to have it at a venue that boasted a barn for the ceremony. She decorated the area with the colors of fall, and cute little fairy lights, and of course all of this was a mere ten minutes away from town. Probably one of the best things about living where we live, if you want peace and quite and to go on a long drive we have country roads surrounding us that will give you what you need. My daughter and I jumped into the car to head to the wedding, I figured that we wouldn’t have to leave too early since the place was so close, but by the time we got there, drove (and slid) up the muddy road to the parking area, we arrived in enough time to get the last two seats in the very back. Since the barn wasn’t as big as most barns, and it was already packed full of their guests, we enjoyed the view from where we were. To me, it was the best view, I was able to catch the eye of all the bridesmaids as they walked passed, and when the doors opened to the beauty that was my friend it was worth sitting where we were. The barn though not warm (it was a stormy windy day that day) it was cozy and full of the love of family and friends. The barn was rustic but sweet, the ceremony was sweet, charming and very much rustic. It was perfect for the people that were getting married.

Barns are a place of refuge, animals are kept safe in times of storms. Part of moving out west was to claim your own land and if you brought animals with you, you had to make a place for them. Neighbors would come together to help “raise the barn”. Once it was built their would be potluck parties and get togethers for the community. Churches were sometimes held in a barn especially when there wasn’t another place for people to gather. It wasn’t unheard of to find someone sleeping in the hay loft.

Going even further back history a barn or sorts was used to house a young couple as they travelled for a census. With no room at any of the inns they were forced to stay with the animals. When the young lady was ready to give birth it was with these animals that she birthed her son. Even more remarkable was that the feeding trough was his bed. A barn, the most humble of places was the place where a special young woman gave birth to a Savior. How remarkable that a king would have a starting point with animals, donkeys, sheep, and probably some chickens. Not the most strong of animals. He could have been born with the mighty, instead he was born with animals considered meek and mild. The barn was a refuge, and the Savior still is.

When we were at the wedding, all squeezed into the barn there was a warmth, a joy and a happiness that could be felt. We were all there to support and love the young couple that was getting married. When we are left the barn for the reception area we had to find the warmth in other ways. We huddled next to each other, stood under the propane heat lamps, and some even snuck back into the barn to try and regain the warmth from the building. When we were together we were comfortable, separated not so much.

When we stray and separate from the Savior we find coldness and an emptiness that can only be filled when we humble ourselves and find our way back to Him. He was born in the humbleness of a barn. He was laid in a feeding trough, and only had animals around to use their body heat for warmth. He came into the world on lowly terms just to leave this world in the same way. We are to follow His example love as He loved and be humble as He is. Until next time:

This will be a sign to you:  You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger......so they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, an the baby, who was lying in the manger.  Luke 2:12-16

Control, is there really such a thing?

Two weeks ago I was minding my business getting ready for the day, the kids were almost out the door for school and my sweet hubby had just given my a kiss so that he could leave for work. I knew that once I was done with the routine I could sit down and do my devotion to really prepare myself. All was going according to plan. Heck even the receptionist’s first text of the morning to me was on time right (she works from home and sends all medical questions my way, since the doctor is off). I was 1/2 way through my morning when I got a phone call from the hospital manager, with the news that one of our staff members might have Covid. I need to stop what I am doing at the moment and re-evaluate my day.

At that moment it wasn’t a total loss of control but it was enough to where I felt it. Phone calls needed to be made to the people this person was around since they worked last. We all needed to be tested because the person had been around us at one point in the week (whether we were close to the person or not, we all got tested to make sure). Then we all had to wait. The schedules for the week had to be rearranged. Only a few of the staff members were able to get the Rapid test, so they knew right away, the rest of us had to wait. I like schedules, I like lists and to be able to check things off my list. I also like to be on the move. I get bored when I sit too long and I don’t feel productive. I was able to regain a little bit of control when I was able to mark off my list the people that were called, and the schedules that had been changed. By mid week we had two people (the doctor was one of them) that could work. By the end of the week the rest of us minus two were cleared to work. A little more control was given back.

While waiting for the results to come back for my test though, I was able to slow down. Be there when the kids got home. Granted I really couldn’t go anywhere but I learned that I don’t really like the desk job. I became much more thankful for my health, that I could go out to people (when cleared of course) and I could love on animals whenever I wanted. I was able to see the blessings when when I slowed down, and luckily the two people that did have Covid had mild cases.

Control is something that we all want but we also have to realize that it’s not something we actually obtain or have. There is always going to be change. Something that puts a hitch in the plan. The bus that shows up late and the kids need to be taken to school, the run with the dogs that might have been too long and now one has a limp, the ingredient in the cookies that wasn’t exactly correct and now the cookies are not the color you are used to (yes this has happened and my daughter almost threw out the whole bowl of cookie dough). The feeling that we can get when things are out of our control can be overwhelming. Parents all of the world probably know this feeling best when their toddler has a temper tantrum in the middle of the supermarket.

Having control is a powerful feeling, but it can destroy you. The anxiety, the worry, the stress that comes with always trying to maintain control can ruin someone. When I was a younger momma with only one child it was a bit easier to have a routine. When I went back to work it became more complex since my hubby and I worked opposite shifts so that we could take care of her. When we added onto our family the routine was more complex but still doable, until it wasn’t because the illusion of control was wearing away and controlled chaos was what was really happening. Things at work were more hectic, the kids needed more from us since they were older, and the stress of not seeing my hubby enough caused anxiety attacks. Change was needed.

I tried to maintain control during that who season of life. I wanted things to be a certain way and when they started to go another way I physically couldn’t handle it. That’s when a job change happened and I started to seek the one that could always maintain control. I started to read my Bible more, I slowed down, I did have to get help from my doctor for a short time. Life didn’t slow down I mean how could it with three young kids? But it did get into a routine of praying, reading my Bible, being there for my hubby and kids and learning that I needed me time.

I have learned a lot from those past days. I learned that when I feel out of control that when I am also not spending time with the Lord. There is a peace that comes when I stop, listen and talk with Christ. There is still chaos and there are many times when I want control but can’t obtain it. The kinks that the world likes to throw into my path will always be there. I can only control the way I react to them. So today I am going to get my day going, drink my Spark, read my Bible and plan for what I can do today but know that it may not turn out exactly how I plan, and that’s ok. Until next time:

Control is only an illusion, real control comes from the maker of heaven and earth. There is peace in that.

Hope for the Simple

I called my husband to let him know I was heading home soon. My son and I had an appointment and I was cutting it close on leaving work. To say this is not normal is sadly not true. It’s not even a thing of time management, it really comes down to the last minute patients and requests that come in that need to be cared for before heading out the door. My son being the good son that he is was waiting in the driveway to hope in the truck so that we could get to his school in a timely manner.

School conferences are important, I know they are. My husband and I haven’t missed one yet for any one of the kids. This year combining the three kids we have a total of eight conferences to go to. Some are in person while others are over Zoom. My son and I rushed to his tonight and let me tell you, it wasn’t boring. I love meeting the teachers and hearing how my kids are doing in school, but the meetings get to a certain point in which we are done talking, there are no questions to ask and we all just look at each other waiting for someone to say something. This is all in the timespan of five minutes because I have am lucky enough to have the kids that the teachers don’t really have anything bad to say about them. There are no complaints, they are good listeners, they help their classmates and they can be trusted. As a momma I love to hear these things especially when my kids are all these things at home but in a different light. I also always hope for the simple when it comes to the conferences because I know the older my kids get the less simple life is.

My middle child and my oldest, have more teachers to meet with and more subjects to talk about, but they also have mental health days, harder classes, identity issues, and classes they want or didn’t get to discuss. We get to find out how good or bad they really are doing in their classes. This is when I hope for the simple, I actually crave it. I think about how much I would love to have a conference like my girls had when they were in elementary school. No world issues, no classes they didn’t get or subjects they didn’t understand.

As a momma I want to gather my kids up like a mother hen does her chicks and protect them from the world. By doing this they don’t get to experience life, they don’t get to have the thrill of an adventure. I think back to when I was their age and if my momma tried to do that to me I would have resisted and fought to have my independence. But oh! I now know how my momma must have felt with the decisions we made.

I don’t know if there really is a thing as “simple”, no matter how much I want to hope for it. Work will always be busy, the kids will make decisions that will make me want to wonder “what were they thinking?”. Life is not simple. There are simple moments, simple projects and recipes to follow. Jesus is simple.

The more and more that I hope for simple, hope for peace, hope for more joy, I have to step back and look at the life I am living. What am I doing to help make my job easier vs. harder? The one thing I always come back to is this: the more I rely on myself to live the life I strive for the more I stress about obtaining that life. When I make time to be quiet with the Lord, read the Bible and actually pray (not just quickly say a short prayer and leave), there is peace and simplicity. My problems don’t go away, the craziness of life stays crazy, but the change comes from knowing that I don’t have to shoulder it all on my own. What’s better is that there is this inner peace that I get immediately. That is a simple hope that is simply gotten.

I have had to come to the realization over the years that you can’t force people to believe the way you do or think the way you think. They are going to have their or thoughts, beliefs and opinions. This isn’t something new, what is new though is that my kids are starting to realize that they have different thoughts, opinions and beliefs than their parents. It’s a change that takes getting used for sure, and it opens up the paths that they will take to becoming adults. So I pray for wisdom, peace and that they will not have to stumble over their chosen paths, but instead find a way to hope for their own kind of simple. Until next time:

Simply put, there isn’t anything in this world that is simple.

Highlighting the Good

Last weekend I took two of my kids to a new dirt bike trail at our local park. The school district had sent out flyers advertising that if kids wanted to try it out they would have bikes available during a certain time with people helping. My son and his friend wanted to do it so badly so we loaded up the bike and met his friend there. The park system did a really good job of laying out these trails having a beginner, intermediate and advanced sections. We of course had Tyler try out the beginner first just to get the lay of the land. His friend was a bit more adventurous and blazed through that section and proceeded to go to the next level. For Tyler this was a mind over matter situation. He had to focus on the now and not remember that a couple of years ago he fell off his bike doing a trail like this. Let’s just say the matter won over the mind. He did the trail a couple of times but we had to halt his attempts because he would not keep his feet on the peddles.

The next day we tried again and brought Leah along. So much better! Tyler kept his feet on the peddles and went through the course. Leah was made to ride these trails, she loved it. She even seemed happy walking up the hill to the start of the trail, so I thought why not take a picture. It was after that I was told that she had a meeting, her bike, her body and the soft but not so soft earth. She decided she would quit for the day, we would fix her bike and try again. The smile on the kids’ faces though, and how excited Tyler was to show Leah the track was worth it.

The times that I get to spend with my kids is really a treasure. We are away from each other all week long, so the weekends are what we have for doing things fun. We have mud runs, color runs, bike trails, and lake visits under our belts. We have game nights, walks and doing projects around the house as well. I am told I am lucky that my kids still want to do stuff we me and my hubby and that they actually want to involve us in their lives. I want to shield the kids from negativity and bad in the world but I am not superwoman, so what I can do is keep talking with them and pray for them. The other day I was told about a tic tok sight that highlights the “stupid” stuff that kids will do. All I could think is how sad. Why would you want to focus on what people do wrong? Why do we want to know when people mess up, when they make a wrong decision? Why wouldn’t we want to celebrate with people when good happens?

How cool would it be to have a tic tok that says things like “Hey did you see those kids picking up trash around our school?” or ones that highlight the high school kid that walked home with the elementary school kids? I cringe when my kids tell me about the whispers they hear from other kids talking about what someone is wearing, how they are wearing it. Highlight instead that people are different, that they are ok with who they are.

Our minds seem to focus more on the bad than good, we literally have to change our thoughts to see the good. This last Saturday my son and I took a walk. We put Charlie’s sweater on (she is a pittie that has one layer of fur and seems to freeze when the temp gets below 60). Harnessed up Jorj and set out. You know what happened? Tyler and I talked. We walked. We enjoyed the fact that the air was crisp and clear (our summer was a smoked filled summer) We enjoyed the fact that our blood was flowing and that we got some exercise in. Our days are getting shorter and colder as we proceed into the fall and winter months. Staying inside is something I tend to do more of because of the annoying cold. So I will enjoy the times I have outdoors, and when the time comes to hibernate I will do as much as I can.

Focusing on the good is healthy for the mind, body and spirit. In Philippians 4:4-9 Paul is in prison, he is chained to a Roman soldier, he is in a place where most people would think only on the bad, they would feel sorry for themselves and would not be focusing on the positive that is for sure. Paul instead focuses on encouraging others when he writes:

Rejoice in the Lord always (not sometimes). Again I will say, rejoice!
Let your gentleness be known to all men, The Lord is at hand.  Be anxious for nothing, but in Everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy---meditate on these things.  

The Waiting

It seems so easy sometimes to just let things wait, but when you are forced into waiting things get a bit more difficult. This last week I was forced into a state of waiting. I had to once again go and get the test done for COVID since I was near someone that was positive. This meant that I had to wait. I had to wait for the test, the results and then wait to hear if anyone else was positive. It isn’t hard to wait, but when you don’t know the end results the stress has a habit of filling up some of that time. The wait doesn’t mean that I am idle though, phone calls needed to be made and appointments changed. I talked with a friend of mine who had to quarantine, because she was positive, which is a type of wait I wouldn’t want to do.

Waiting has so many good qualities too. Waiting to see when a friend can visit, waiting for the paint to dry anticipating the next stroke, even when waiting for the cookies to be done baking helps get you ready for the first bite. The problem with waiting is when you are told to wait. Think of it like this:

You plan a fun weekend trip for your family. You have planned for it, you know it is right around the corner but there are a few obstacles you have to get through before you can go. The first one is telling your kids for the the umpteenth time that they have to be patient, that the weekend will only get here so fast. Your nerves are on edge because they won’t leave you alone about it, but you have to keep telling them to wait. You have to do it in the right way though, they are just as excited as you are but they are just not comprehending that it will take the week to get through and the weekend won’t get here any quicker with the amount of questions they have. They just have to wait.

This week I had to wait, the week long plans and schedules all had to be put on hold. The uncertainty was stressful. I had to choose to enjoy the wait, work through the wait or complain about the wait. Admittedly I started out with complaining. I don’t like change much and I had to change my whole week, plus there were people that were relying on me to be there for them and I couldn’t, that didn’t sit well. Have you ever noticed the phenomenon of everything blowing up right at the time when you can do nothing about it? It felt like this week was the week of mishaps for a lot of animals, we had a skeleton crew at our hospital and the doctor really could only do so much. Mix this with people who are frantic about their pets and it can be somewhat of a nightmare. Added to the wait was an injured friend and two people I work with being sick. Not so fun. I chose to work through the wait and enjoy the extra moments I had with my family and pets (though I didn’t get too close to them). Working from home can be a little difficult when you are in a service based business. I mean I can’t cut a dog’s nails through the computer.

Have you ever had those moments where you are so excited to tell someone your happy news but you had to leave a message or you text them and they don’t respond right away. Ugh! The wait. What’s great about this type of waiting is you know when they finally listen or text back there will be excitement in their voices and they will want to celebrate with you. I remember when I passed my Hospice and Palliative Care Certification program I didn’t realize that I was theoretically holding my breath waiting for the test results to come in. When I got them I let out the sigh and started calling the people that had been supporting me. I got through my list and the last person I called I had to leave a message. I didn’t hear back from this person for a few days (they were out camping), but when they called it was so awesome to relive the excitement. It was so worth the wait.

We always seem to want things now, now, now, and if it’s not there when we want it we get upset. We have gotten to the point where we feel entitled to have what we want when we want it. This mentality can take away the joy of the wait. Would you want an artist to go quicker than normal to give you a painting you ordered? No you would want it done well, knowing the final outcome will be worth the wait. We are not supposed to go at this neck breaking speed all the time. We are called to rest. To wait, to find joy in the silence and the beauty around us. If we are so busy rushing and speeding by we miss the magic around us. As I was doing my devotion this morning, I was trying to find the joy in the silence after ending my prayer for the day. I tried to clear my head and focus on the silence and take it all in. Let me tell you I didn’t quite find the joy in the waiting for peace. I got fidgety and started to let my mind wander to what needed to be done for the day. I missed the wait. I missed time spent in blessed peace (the house was empty except the pets). This week I could have done done the road of really just enjoying the waiting process. I could have started a project, got creative, read a book all day. I wish I could say I accomplished the waiting process, but I admit waiting is not my strong point. I am a work in progress, but when I really sit down to think about it the wait is worth it. Until next time:

Take time to breathe, in through the nose, out the mouth. Feel the healing affects of each breath. Slow down, relax and enjoy the moments you have with yourself and the Lord.

Finding Joy in the Simple

Lately I have been feeling lack of peace, but the kind of peace that comes with being ok with the world around me. I find that when I start to think more of myself, and think that I am better than those around me I don’t have peace or the joy that comes with it.

I am very much a person who likes things done, not necessarily in a certain order, but in a certain time frame. When it comes to the household if a pile has been left in a room for longer than an hour I notice, but when it has been a day or more I say something to the person that owns the pile and then I create a timeline in my head of how long it takes for that said person to take care of the pile. If it takes longer than a week for the pile to get taken care of I start the process of taking care of it myself which usually means the items end up in areas that their owners probably don’t want. I fail to realize that the pile might of stayed in the location longer I thought it should have because the person is using the items for a project, or they are trying to get through a busy week and just didn’t get to them when they thought they should. I let t he pile rob me of my peace and joy because it was something that bothered me more than it bothered the person who owned it. I was on the internet a little bit ago and I saw this video where this lady every morning had to pick her husband’s shorts off the floor. At first she was annoyed by it and kept making the comments that she wasn’t his momma and that he should pick up after himself. Then a friend of hers lost her husband, and while they visited over coffee her friend made the comment that she missed even doing the little things she used to do for her husband. What hit me most was that the first gal was seeing the inconvenience of the piles of the cleaning up after people, while the second gal, though she went through pain to see it was missing the joy of taking care of her husband.

Joy can be found in the simple, the sweet hello from your hubby when you wake up in the morning. It can come from knowing you finished a job and you did a good job doing it. It can come from knowing you held your tongue when you really wanted to say something but you were not in the right frame of mind. When I go to work a have a few main focuses. The main one is to make sure the patients I see that day are not only taken care of but that they feel special (ok so I work with animals literally all day long so just giving an extra pat on the head, or scrinch behind the ear is all it takes). After that my focus is to to my other duties well and then make it home by a decent hour. When you work in vet medicine you have a schedule that is given to you but on some days it feels more like a guideline than an actual schedule. So sometimes the focus can be more on getting the job done so that you can actually make it home for dinner, rather than finding the joy in having a really awesome job. Fridays tend to be that way for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Fridays but I tend to get testy towards the end of the day when some co-workers don’t do what I feel they should be doing to make it so we all can get out of there at a decent time. I get into the mentality that I just need to do it all so that things get done. Wow! Have I put myself on the pedestal! I am not any better than anyone I work with, and when I start to feel and act like I am my joy is robbed from me and it shows in how I interact with those around me. I mumble under my breath, I am snarky, I coat my words with kindness but underneath they are not so kind.

Joy comes in the simple things. Knowing that I am caring for the animals that come into the hospital. Knowing that I am care for my family. Knowing that I am caring for my friends. Knowing that I am not enough, that with God I can be. When I focus on what others are doing wrong I put myself above them. I see them through a lens that I shouldn’t be using. Joy comes from looking ahead to the Cross vs. looking to the left and the right and seeing things of this world. I am working on myself, working on spending more time on fixing myself with the help of prayer and looking for the simple joys around me. Joy comes from turning off the phone on the weekend, spending quality time with my family, reading the Bible not just books written about the Bible, observing the quiet but enjoying the noise. Joy comes from the simple, when we chose to step back and away from the daily grind and take in the completeness of God, and blessings He gives. Joy comes from stepping off the self made pedestals, getting out of the “me, me, me” mentality and seeing that there is more in this world than just me. I am a constant work in progress but becoming a God centered person rather than a “me” centered person will increase my Joy tenfold and that is worth working for. Until next time:

Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world---the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-----is not of the Father but is of the world.  And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.    1 John 2:15-17

The Laughter

It was quiet and calm before you guys came home!

My daughter, son and I went to church tonight and left my hubby and other daughter at home to do whatever it is they decided to do. When we got home the level of energy and noise grew a few octaves and Tim made sure we knew it was because we came home. This only meant he had to listen a bit more intently to the game he was playing. I am ok with that.

Major and minor disturbances happen all the time in our lives, we just have to figure out how to deal with them. Right before church started I looked down at my wedding ring and noticed one of the side diamonds fell out. I did a little freak out in my mind as I told my daughter that I needed to head back to the bathroom to see if I could find the gem. Just short of crawling around on the bathroom floor I decided that it would be futile, the gem was small and I couldn’t say if I lost it while in the car or walking to the front of the church, the bathroom or the sanctuary. Even Tabby looked at me and said “mom, I think it’s a lost cause”. I knew it was but I didn’t want to admit it. I also knew that if I kept thinking about the loss of the diamond I would miss out on the worship and the Bible study to follow. The diamond would be replaced but the time spent with the Lord couldn’t be.

As we headed home, the kids talked as I once again let myself get lost in the moment that at that very moment my kids were not fighting and they were actually having a conversation. Charlie our perpetual puppy met us at the door with a toy in the mouth and a whip of a tail going crazy. She even squints when she pretzels herself and slaps her face with the tail of death. Cue the laughter. Charlie and Leah my middle child don’t get along really well. Leah could look at Tabby wrong and Charlie will feel the need to come to her rescue. So when Charlie allowed Leah to grab a hold of the rope toy and they started to play tug of war we all took notice. This wasn’t just a simple one time game, they were all out pulling against each other and Leah at least a few times was able to drag Charlie across the floor, only to drag Leah back to where the carpet is and the traction is greater. Tabby tried to join in but it was truly a game between Leah and Charlie. Jorj tried to join in but with the lack of rope and Leah screaming and laughing that her hand was going to get bit off he didn’t try too hard. The game finally ended when Leah gave in to her hand hurting from holding the rope toy so tightly. Charlie looked on smugly with the toy being held down by her paw. Charlie 1, Leah 0.

Charlie gloating with her toy, Jorj sadly looking on

The best part: the laughter. Leah was laughing, Tabby was laughing and I of course had to join in. These girls deal with seriousness way too much. The roles they play at school and at home are quite the load to bear. All too often they have to be careful of what they say, how they say it, what they wear, how they wear it and if the kid behind them on the bus approves of all of this. They are both so unique and yet the same in what they have to go up against each day. They find ways to laugh with each other though, and they have a secret code/language for each other. They stand up for each other, the best thing is they can find their giggles still like they did as kids. It might be a bit more rough now, at this very moment they Leah is sitting on Tabby telling her she just needs to suffer as they share the picture Leah just took of Charlie.

Charlie the perpetual puppy

A good hearty ‘chuckle the kind that makes your stomach hurt can be soothing for the soul. Listening to your loved ones laugh can make your heart soar. Joy comes from laughter too. When the people around you feel secure enough to laugh with you or around you, there is joy. Charlie our puppy is skittish at times, she needs a confident person to be her person and she thrives with our Jorj dog being the strong, mellow type. Laughter is contagious and healing. I forget the stress when I am in the moments joy and chuckles. Finding the joy, will bring peace, strength and the moments of laughter can abound. Until next time:

Always find a reason to laugh. It might not add years to your life, but surely will add life to your years.

Mud Bath Anyone?

You know those annoying ads that you get when you go onto social media? The ones for clothes you won’t wear, the ads for weight loss systems that are based on research that has been around forever but is now the best thing for losing that last 10 pounds? I am one that gets caught up in the active ads. The ones that prompt you to sign up for that run that makes you go through powered color, or bubbles of all things.

I was on a family trip this summer in which I get a text from my hubby (he couldn’t come because of work). He had seen an ad about a obstacle course that was only 3 miles long and could be something that our family could do together. So I jumped up from my super cozy couch and went on the search for the kids. My oldest was like “Nah, that’s too much exercise” where the middle and youngest were all for it. So I sat down and looked up how to get signed up. Good thing I signed up right then and there because I got a sale price that was slightly less that half my paycheck to sign up (at least it felt like it). I texted the hubby that we were all signed up, then headed with the kids to the lake.

The week before the obstacle course, we realized there was a little more planning we would have to do before heading over to the race site. The actual race would bring us through different obstacles like cargo net walls, a wall that required a rope to get over it, “live wire” crawls, and army crawls under nets. Most of these were done with lots, and lots of mud. So we needed to plan. The race was about 1 1/2 hr away, we would need trash bags for the clothes afterwards, gallons of water to get the mud off (yes there was a “shower” at the race, but there were also a lot of people using said showers), and clean clothes to change into. Oh and we had to convince the middle child without actually convincing her that she wanted to do this race. By the time we left we had all that required items and we had two kids mostly convinced they wanted to do this obstacle course.

The race day was a hot 90 degree day. Our race waves were late morning and the only “food” available at the location was Hawaiian ice. Our son did the kid race by himself, at the finish line he reported that it was fun, he didn’t do all of the obstacles but that the mud was “wet and a bit cold”. Our middle child decided at this point she would do the race but wasn’t planning on staying with me and the hubby. Our race time came, the announcer told us repeatedly where the showers were, to follow the yellow cones and then had us do the countdown. We were off! True to her word Leah left us. I was determined to do all the obstacles I could physically do, so I managed 6 out of the 8 of them. Tim was determined to get as much mud on himself and others as he possibly could. Our course had to be done twice to get the full 5k. We managed great until the first mud obstacle. The kids race stirred up the mud for the rest of us, so it was slick, it was mushy, and it took a hold of your shoes and for some would not let go. We got through the first round with both our shoes on, mud in my nose and Tim managed to get the people in front of us muddy on their backsides.

The second go through was a bit more challenging. We found running really wasn’t going to happen. Mud puddles also have rocks. That was what was in our shoes. Those obstacles we had to do again, well this time it was with mud in our shoes, caked on our arms, legs and hands. It was also on everyone elses that went before us so we had that on the obstacles themselves. By the time we got to the mud obstacles there was a lot more shoes piled on the side and I swear the puddles were deeper than before. We made it though! We both got medals, Leah and Tyler made it and got their medals, we got our before and after pictures and then made it to the showers in which we just made the mud into mud puddles but didn’t really succeed it getting the actual mud off of us.

It was a fun day to say the least. We had some tired kids afterwards, parents too. I knew that I would feel the effects of the course in the following days but it was so worth it. The next time the hubby mentions something like this I might suggest another type of mud bath though. One that is supposed to relax and moisturize vs. cake on and claim shoes as it’s own. My hubby and I know that our kids are getting older and eventually we won’t have these moments with them. Already we have to convince them that they’ll have fun if they just try it. I love my family and I love doing stuff with them, so if it’s mud obstacle courses over mud baths then so be it, I’ll have time later on in life to exfoliate and rehydrate my skin. Until next time:

All you can do is try, try and be a listening ear, try and be a shoulder to cry on, try and be the one they have fun with, try and encourage and cheer on. If you are actively trying to do these things then you are doing the best you can do.

Finally Back!

Oh how I have missed you!

Four weeks ago, Wednesday afternoon, I was looking at my schedule for the rest of the day and thought, Yes! I will be able to go home at a decent time and I will be able to get to the midweek church service. By 4:30 all that changed with a phone call. A dog in need needed to have surgery to help save his life. This was crunch time and something had to be done. The owners wanted to do whatever could be done to save their beloved pet. The surgery lasted two hours from start to finish and by the time we were done the day was longer than the hours I normally sleep at night. The next day brought another emergency surgery for a little cat that had fallen out of a tree.

The next Wednesday was the same song and dance, once again hopeful to get home at a decent hour, another animal needed help. After a surgery to fix a wound that a barbed wire created the dog was able to go home that same night but it was after normal business hours. By the time we all went home I was humbly acknowledging that my Spark drink that I have every morning would possibly have to be doubled up just so that I could make it through the coming day.

This last week brought yet another pet that was in need of emergency surgery. I absolutely love my job. I love that I get to be the nurse that helps a beloved pet wake up after a surgery. I love that I get to snuggle a pet close when they feel scared. I love being a part of a team that brings comfort, brings health, brings relief to animals and their parents. I would not trade my job for any other job. It does come with sacrifices, sleep is one of them. As I was leaving work yesterday (yet another Wednesday) the doctor and I barely missed another emergency. Luckily for this sweet little dog her owners were quick to see there was a problem and acted accordingly. Lets just say dark chocolate and little dogs do not go hand in hand. By the time the little pooch left our hospital she was a little more black (thank you activated charcoal), she had fluids to help her stay hydrated and she had a dad who was more than happy to throw away any other dark chocolate in his house.

I got to go to church last night though! I got to hear about Isaac and Rebekah, and how with prayer and belief things happen. I was able to sit with my daughter and have my son go to the children’s service. Dinner with the family happened and I was able to sit on the couch and have the cat come say “Hi!” I was able to sit with my girls in the living room, listen to my hubby fix the shoes that should have been thrown away already. I was able to watch as my son did everything in his power to stall cleaning his room. I finally got to be there! I have been struggling lately with not knowing what to say or do when I am confronted with something. I think I am listening more with what people say than what God says. I think I have put my efforts more in my work and family than with my faith and my conversations with God. I plan on changing that, day by day, effort by effort. I am finally back! Until next time:

A house divided against itself will not stand. Jesus knows our thoughts, our hearts. Don’t harden your heart, we are who we hang out with, what we read, what we listen to, what we buy into.

How Do They Know?

I’m not sure if I am feeling what I am feeling, can you take a look for me to make sure? I immediately agreed to take a look, not wanting to pay attention to the gut feeling I had. When you know someone long enough there are certain feelings, thoughts, mannerisms that you just know at recognize. This was no different.

When I first was told that there was going to be a change in a relationship I hold dearly, it felt like I was kicked in the gut. I didn’t know how to respond, and to be honest I am still learning, and have days in which I am afraid to ask the questions that need to be asked because then I can’t hide behind the claim of ignorance. The change made me look at the world in a more cynical light, but even with doing that I knew that I needed to not go down that road. I chose a long time ago to try my hardest to focus on the things I can control, and let God take care of the rest. My reactions, my emotions, my thoughts. I can control those, mostly and when I can’t I admit defeat and know that even when I feel I am in control it is really still God who is. When my friend asked me to just take a quick feel of her dogs stomach I knew once I did that more actions had to be done to find out what was going on. When more was discovered, my friend needed to know that she had a support system not just with her family but with her friends. The same held true for me when I was having to go forward with the changes in my relationship. I felt alone, and honestly like I was just trying to keep up.

Out of nowhere I got a text from someone I hadn’t talked to in a while. It was a heart check type text that made my eyes start leaking. Then another person, and another person throughout the week texted me out of the blue to just say “Hi” and to see how I was doing. Little miracles, is what I can say was happening.

There are certain days of the week that are a bit longer than others. It feels like 24hrs are crammed into 12hrs. From start to finish the race is on. Add in what is going on in the world, going on in your personal life, going on in your work life and it can be quite overwhelming. Enter in the kids “Hey mom, do you want to read the report I just did?” “Hey mom, we had to make this up for school and I chose the fox as my focus, do you want to see it?” “Hey mom, can we go get the hair dye?”. It may seem like a lot of “Hey mom!” but it was a balm for my soul. When I got home from work a few nights ago I got a text from my boss to just say “Thanks for your hard work” from that a conversation came about how we are both not doing ok, but that things are getting better. A day after that my good friend texted to ask if I had a minute. That conversation led to her building me up.

When my friend had asked me to feel her dog’s belly I knew from that point on I would be there through whatever hard decisions she and her hubby would have to make about their beloved dog. When I started asked the hard question about my relationship that was changing I knew that I would have to accept the changes and be there for the other person. When I had a really hard day, but chose to keep it bottled up, I was really encouraged when I started to see that the people closet to me noticed the changes in me and took it upon themselves to check in with me. We were not put on this earth to go it alone. We need people in our lives and God puts the people we have right now there for a reason. Sometimes it’s to encourage us, other times it’s to help us to grow and change and adapt to what is going on around us. What I find strength in is the fact that I don’t have to do this alone. I have God first and foremost, family, friends, pets, and even strangers. There are days when hunkering down and getting a good book and a blanket are all that is needed, other days it is the kindness of another person. The problems start when we try to do life by ourselves. When we tell ourselves the lie that we can manage on our own. Anxiety and fear are the only things that come from that way of thinking. Community brings strength. Faith brings peace and that deep down joy. Until next time:

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.    I John 4:7
...and He has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.  
1 John 4: 21

It’s Fair Time!

We went to the fair this weekend. Every year, the second weekend in September this fair takes place, and in the last 3 years we have tried our hardest to stay at the fair as long as we can. This year was no different. The ride bracelets were bought in advance and we arrived early enough to ride all the rides to get it out of our system, knowing that we would have longer lines later on and may not get to all of the popular rides again. This year my eldest daughter asked to have her boyfriend come along and my youngest got to have his friend come. My middle child was more than happy to just hang out with her sister and be with someone her age. This year my hubby and I were going to be partly ditched by the older two girls. They would check in at lunch time and then again when we were leaving (of course). My youngest and his friend would have to suffer through hanging out with the parents. We had the plan in play, the water bottles were filled and the snacks packed. We were ready to go!

Earlier in the week we had run into a slight problem with the fair though. Thursday afternoon my boss had been to a client’s house close to where the fair was and was listening to the fire forecast (one side job she has is to help evacuate animals that are caught near wildfires) when it came across the lines that a wild fire had broken out west of where the fair was and that they town was on standby for evacuations. Now wild fires are not a new thing for us in this area. The pacific northwest seems to always have one going on and this fire was no different. We actually consider our summers a good summer if we don’t have smoke in the air. Needless to say our summer has had A LOT of smoke in the air and at times ash falling on our cars and homes. I called my hubby and let him know the news (don’t know why I do this, he seems to always know what is going on). So we had to wait and watch to see what this fire would do. By Saturday the fire was about 85% contained so the fair at least for us was a go…..YAY!

This fair is the biggest one in our area, it’s the one everyone goes to even though we have smaller ones throughout the summer. The rides to really change, but the community seems to all head out in droves to this fair and we were going as well. We got there with the plan to go on some of the rides first and then meet up for lunch to then separate again until we planned to head home. The first ride of the day was the G Force. This ride basically spins you around so fast that you are plastered to the wall until the spinning stops. If you are unlucky enough sometimes you are not pushed up against the wall hard enough and start to flip upside down. Sadly this happened to my daughter’s boyfriend. Normally you just ride it out, shake it off and head to the next ride once the spinning stops, sadly for him, it hit him a bit harder. The empty stomach (other than a flavored water he had) and the force of the spinning caused his insides to want to come out, and needless to say he was not able to just “shake it off” He was a bit green and was barely able to hold down the water and fruit bar we gave him, but he managed to and eventually was able to walk around a little bit more. G-Force 1, poor teenage kid 0.

For some reason the rides at the fair consist of spinning rides, more spinning rides, rides that go in all different directions while spinning, and bumper cars. After lunch and getting my daughter and her boyfriend in a cooler location we headed back to the rides. This time it was the boy. My so and his friend were so excited that they could go on any ride they wanted. They were finally tall enough!! The first go around of spinning rides was really no problem until they decided to do them again, then the spinning mixed with the heat and not enough water led to my little man sitting out in the shade for some of the time while my hubby gladly poured cold water on his head. Luckily his insides stayed inside but after a few times of sitting in the shade we all voted to go look at the quilts that won various prizes in one of the main buildings. By the time we cooled down, settled down and figured out what to do next, we all opted for shopping, ice cream and then to head home.

Another fair in the books, this time around we managed to be there for about 6 hours give or take, 1/2 more than the last time! We do love going to the fair, more to come together as a community, but also it’s to make memories. This year was about the girls going out on their own, doing their own thing. This year was about my youngest having a friend to ride the rides with him. We didn’t go early for the piglet chase and catch, but we arrived to see friends whose kids were in the chase. We had local food, we rode the rides and we had yummy Umpqua ice cream. My hubby and I were about to see people we haven’t seen in years, and talk to others we hadn’t talked to in longer. The fires that were nearby didn’t stop this day, and thankfully they were contained quickly. The two kids that had a hard time keeping the contents of their stomachs in their stomachs put a damper on the moment, but once they felt better we were able to keep having fun.

We came home tired, but knew we had a good day together. More often than not, our weekends are when we are able to do things as a family (our next adventure will be a 5k Mud Run). My hubby and I know our time with our kids is getting shorter and shorter. Times and circumstances have already taken our baby girls and changed them into young ladies with their own opinions and world views. Daily, sometimes hourly I am praying for them knowing that who they hang out with, and what they chose to listen to or get involved in will shape them into the people they will become, and sometimes I am scared to think about that. My son is your typical 10 year old who doesn’t realize that he really is not being raised in a barn. When we chose to show up, and be open to listen great things will happen. Even if this means riding spinning rides and eating fair food, while making sure the kids that have been given to you to care for do their best to drive you insane. Enjoy life, enjoy your family, find your joy and fight your battles on your knees praying for those you love. Until next time:

Life is a colorful adventure

Joy Comes

A couple of weeks ago I sat down to write like I normally do. I had to stop because I wasn’t feeling like I could write and actually feel joyful. Life was going along somewhat normally, work was busy, life at home was routine, but things just seemed off, and so I wanted to wait until I was more joyous to put my thoughts into words. I am working on it but I am not fully there yet.

A few weeks ago I had planned to fly down to my where my parents lived so that I could go to a memorial. When there was an issue with the airlines and I was unable to go, I thought I would be ok. My sweet hubby made it a point to be there for me to watch the memorial on a live feed, but it just wasn’t the same. I cried, I laughed, and I watched as people that I had grown up with were together to celebrate a wonderful man, and I wanted to be there. When the memorial was done I finished writing my thoughts about it, and what had been said, it helped to make me feel the joy that had been hidden. Joy comes from knowing who you are, and knowing who loves you. You may not always be happy, but you will have the security in knowing that things will be ok.

From that event on, it was normal routine, until again a post on Facebook almost crumbled me. I had to lean on the fact that I am more than my profession, I am more than a momma, and I am more than a wife. I am unique, and I am not perfect. You know the saying that there could be a hundred nice things said about you but have one mean thing said will make you forget the hundred? Try and you may it’s hard to get past doing that. Due to one person not coping well with grieving she lashed out at the people that came to help her. She posted things in her point of few that were not quite true, and that made the situation hurt worse. Yes it hurt, but I had to chose to move past, and not let one person’s thoughts wreak havoc on my emotions and thoughts. Stepping away from the situation and seeing it for what it is, and seeing yourself for who you are will bring the joy back into the picture.

School started this week for my kiddos. My youngest did really well during the first few days. My middle child didn’t get the electives she wanted but decided to accept that they are what they are. My oldest started out the first day running really late, missed the bus and forgot to bring a notebook home. This year she is also doing an experiment of sorts. Challenging the dress code. Ok I get it, pretty harmless, but what goes along with this is having her siblings see what she is learning and growing from it, seeing that sometimes you do have to question the rules but try to do it as respectfully as you can. In some ways, I am a passive person most of the time and can be content in most situations. I am trying to find the joy in the moment, and can see that it really doesn’t mean that I will always be happy, that I will always feel content. My girls are trying to figure out who they really are, and social media is playing a part in their discoveries. My youngest is just trying to do what his older sisters are doing and wants to get into what they are into, which of course makes them fight back and want to remove him from the situation. We always try to teach in our home that we need to be nice to each other, because not everyone outside our walls are going to be pleasant and nice.

There is a lot of praying, there is a lot of going to woman older than I am, who have raised their families to get help and insight. I read a lot, I cry a lot, I stay silent sometimes. My kids know that I may not always agree with their decisions but I will always love and support them. Let me tell you, they try and push those decisions to the max, and I push back harder with being there for them, praying for them, taking them to therapy if they need it, showing up. They may not see the tears cried, or the hear the prayers prayed, but they do see that there is love for them. As I was talking to my good friend today she was talking to me about her son when he was younger and the trials and struggles she had had with him. She pointed out that kids will make it through these years, which means their parents are going to make it through these years, they may have greyer hair, or less of it, but they will make it. What is important is to not let your joy die. There are enough things/situations/words in the world that are nasty and mean. Love is greater, always. With love comes joy, with joy comes strength, with strength comes patience and knowing your worth. So when the war is raging on hit your knees and fight with prayer. For your family, for your friends, for your job, your world, your joy. That is the only way to survive. Until next time:

Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
Psalms 30:1-5

Girls Day Out

A girls day out meant a guys day in for the hubby and Tyler.

When the kids were younger we would do special outings with them where either Tim would take the girls out to lunch and then the park and I would take Tyler to lunch and then somewhere fun. We would mix it up and try and do one on one time with the kids too. Each time I would come back feeling like I knew my kids just a little bit better, which made it so that when normal life happens I have a fighting chance on figuring them out then too. Our relationships seem a bit better too, the girls talk to me more about their lives and I know when Tyler decides to care about more that is happening in his life (he is only 10) that he’ll feel comfortable talking with Tim and I.

So this Saturday was the girls trip to go shopping and have lunch. Out of the three of us girls Tabby is the only one that really enjoys shopping though. I don’t mind it, I have fun but I am not one that typically stays out all day to shop. Leah my middle girl likes it even less. She has one style, short hair, sweats and whatever shirt she finds that is clean. Our trip had the purpose of shopping but I learned so much more from my girls by being with them all day. Some was eye opening, like the fact that they are not longer my little girls anymore, but instead they are my teen girls who like to cuss occasionally, they analysis most people and situations but mainly their targets are their little brother and dad. They are different but so very much the same, they want to be heard, they want justice served, and they want to be able to do what they want to do even if it means pushing the limits a bit.

Tim and Tyler had other plans for their boys day in. Since it had nothing to do with shopping it would have everything to do with food, movies, video games and food. The boys stayed home but grabbed Little Cesar’s pizza for a brunch will the Aliens did their part on the screen. Shopping had a play in part of their day, so with that came, candy and sodas to keep them going just long enough to hit the local gaming center. I got a text from the hubby while we were at lunch that let me know that he was a tad sick from the virtual reality game he and Tyler had played. I felt a bit nauseous after he described what the game was: flying and falling and shooting all sorts of objects that just happened to be moving around too. No thanks! The girls and I came home to an empty pizza box and a large bag of opened skittles on the kitchen counter. Tyler and Tim were able to bond over the activities they did. They didn’t worry about us girls analyzing them, and bossing them around. They were just two guys hanging out. Perfect.

Life makes these outings and moments hard to do as often as I would like to do them. When the kids were younger we would feed them, and then we would play with them at the park. Now it’s feed them, talk about life issues, shop, play video games, eat some more and try hard to connect with them without having them close up shop because a touchy subject was brought up. I love learning more about my kids. I am scared to learn about my kids. It is a hard fact that the world has a big influence on what my kids think. I have known this for a long time. I was their age once and I remember going through some of the same things they go through but with less electronics. There are days when putting my kids in a bubble and not allowing the world around them near is something I would love to do. Then I look at my kids, hang out with them, and get to know them that much more and I realize God made them for a reason. They have a purpose. They were brought up to trust in the Lord, and to do their best to be kind and compassionate human beings. They are not smaller versions of Tim and I. To be honest they push the limits with us and have their own paths that they are taking which makes this momma’s heart nervous, but I know they have good foundations. I can’t wait to see where they go, but for now I will enjoy the lunch dates with shopping afterwards. I will enjoy the car talks about boyfriends and dragons. I will enjoy the secretive side glances the girls give each other. I will listen to the way Tyler describes his day with dad and watch how Tyler teaches his dad how to play a certain game.

I can choose to be scared for my kids day in and day out because the world is scary, or I can watch, learn and grow with them while I hit my knees daily to pray for them. I admit some of their interests are far from what I would consider “my tastes” but that is who they are right now, all I can do is take an interest as well and be in the moment with them. I will pray often for them, while enjoy who they are becoming. Until next time:

Instead of bracing yourself for the perils of the unknown, embrace the joy that is here, in your present moment.

Michelle Cruz Rosado

The Act of Figuring it Out

As dawn approached, our dog Charlie decided it would be the right time to start scratching at her kennel door to try and get my hubby to let her out. After a few tries at scratching she was told with authority that it was not time to get up, and thankfully she listened for at least an hour more. At that point she was let out to snuggle down in between our bodies to promptly fall asleep again. Our other dog Jorj (the calmer one) just found his comfy spot and fell back asleep to get a few more winks before the breakfast bell rang.

Our house is a mixture of different personalities all combined together to make sure I have a good sense of self control, patience and humbleness. Our days always start out with the dogs not making up their minds whether they want to sleep in longer or get up to go on a walk with their humans. If they chose to sleep through it, their actions don’t last long as we get ourselves ready for the morning routine. I love the morning walks, my hubby and I get a chance to talk with each other, hash out issues, and quietly walk along enjoying each other’s company. It is funny how different but the same we are. We both do things our own ways and want better communication. Now that we are both back to full time jobs the ability to converse with each other comes at the only times that are available: on our walks, before bed and on the weekends when we are not working on other projects. I don’t know about anyone else but to have an independent streak (me) mix with a “my way or the highway” (him) the conversations can get interesting. We have both mellowed over the years, and there are times when maybe we both should listen more and talk less, but when we look at our relationship we are stronger for the very reasons we are weak.

This summer has proven to me that teenagers are really just overgrown two year old’s. Not so much in the attitude category (though the force is strong with my two girls), but in the sleep, eat, and poop categories. I swear it feels like all my girls do is stay up all night, sleep all day, and if it requires anything healthy to eat they say they are not hungry and haven’t eaten for weeks because they just don’t need food. My middle child is seen on a rare occasion when she get up to use the restroom, and when she hones in on the bag of chips that just opened up. Funny she can survive not eating for days on in, but can masterfully walk around in the middle of the night gathering up a bowl of cereal and a root beer without waking anyone up. This is the same girl that rode 40 miles last year on a Saturday because she wanted to. In a years time she went from an active girl, to one that won’t go outside because it’s too hot and their may be a bit too much smoke in the air (granted I will give her that, the fires around out area have caused unhealthy air quality). Now before I jump to my own conclusions, or you do, I have been told by other parents and have seen it with the girl’s friends that sleeping during the day and eating junk food is what is the thing to do at this age. What a test of patience, and an act of strength to not force her out of her room to do what I consider normal things. It has been a hard lesson to learn that I cannot force my kids to my way of thinking, or make them act a certain way. I have to remember that I am still lucky that I am still a part of their conversations, though not all.

My oldest isn’t much different except that she now does get up at a reasonable time, though it is to get to work on time. She has a job Monday-Friday job that had made her realize that sleep is good. She is my analyzer though. She will analyze the socks off of anyone, and then make sure they know the ways in which they should do things (ok so mainly she does this to her younger brother, but she has put her dad in the analyzing target a few times too). She loves to be on her computer and has a new way of dressing again, that I really have to get used to. I often wonder over and over why the seasoned parents that have gone through the awkward teenage years didn’t band together to help us newbies figure out how to navigate these weird years. Then I realized they were probably just trying to survive just and I and my hubby are trying to now.

Then there is our youngest. I didn’t realize how hard it would be for the little guy. He has gone from being the baby of the family who had his sisters there to play with him, to the youngest of the family that is simply tolerated by one sister and mothered by the other sister. Don’t get me wrong, he can stand his own but even now he is realizing he has an opinion and likes to share it, and he knows that bugging his sisters gets him attention even if it’s not always the attention he craves. He is still fun loving and has no problem telling me he loves me, and I will take it for as long as I can. The boy knows how to work his magic though, stay quiet long enough about something, and the parents tend to forget about it. Don’t let the sisters know what you are staying quiet about and chances are they won’t remind the parents about what it is you are not reminding them about.

What is needed is an instruction manual that comes with each child that outlines what their personalities are, what hypes them up and what makes them upset. Parents don’t stand a chance without these books. Luckily we have wise ones that have gone before us, if we can get them to open up. We have the Bible that teaches us how to raise our kids, teaches us patience, and humility, but doesn’t hit on the specifics of actually raises the individuals that are living in your home. I guess that is what praying is for, and studying the Bible so that the example Christ gives us will help us survive the growing up years. There have been times were I really wasn’t sure if I was gonna make it through the day with my hubby and kids, but then I am blessed with a hug, or kind word, a day for reading and I know that we are all different but because of that we make each other stronger. There are no mistakes when it comes to who I love and live with. Until next time:

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.      Ephesians 2:10

Well Done

It’s weird that I was looking forward to going to California. I knew that the reason to go was really to say goodbye to a man that helped shape me to be the person I am today. Ok, so he was the catalyst for it because he raised good, loving sons, who mostly went on to be pastors like him. From the moment that I was told that Pastor Harold passed away I knew in my heart I would fly down and attend the memorial.

This week was going to be a different week already. My boss was out of town, and the amount of appointments wasn’t too bad. The plan was for me to work a half day, and then fly out in the afternoon. When I reached the airport however, I was informed that my flight was delayed, and would leave at the same time that my connecting flight was to fly out, thus making it where I would miss my second flight. Sadly because of this, and the fact that the flights out the next day were also booked to my final destination I had to make the decision to not go on my trip. After calling my hubby and then my parents I did a little decompressing at Target. It’s funny, I figured that all would work out with the airlines and I would still make it, but when that didn’t happen, I was forced to plan a different path.

Sadly I will say I was not the nicest of people to the Travelocity lady I called. I was frustrated and a bit sad because of what I was missing. I realized after that call, when I had to call United to get a refund for my flights that I had to be calm and patient, with a smile on my face and in my words. When it came down to it, I had to start thinking about what Pastor Harold would do if this happened to him. It wasn’t the guy’s fault on the other end of the line that the planes were delayed. It wasn’t his fault that I was frustrated. It was up to me to act the way I should act. Earlier before I headed to the airport I was talking to my kids about this same thing. I talk to them over and over about the fact that they have every right to get angry, but it’s what they do with their anger that can get them in trouble. My son learned the firsthand when he lost his Ipad and computer privileges’ for lashing out at his sister and stomping away after he was asked to move from his chair so his other sister could have a good meeting with her therapist.

Last night as I sat with my family in my living room I watched the memorial for Pastor Harold Korver. My immediate family never got the chance to meet Pastor Harold, but his son Pastor Ken Korver is the one who married my hubby and I. As I watched, wishing I could be there in person, I realized that even now God has me where He wants me. My family sat and watched as one my one Pastor Harold’s sons went up on stage and told stories of their dad, but more importantly they told stories of what Christ did through their dad. My kids got to hear the stories, they got to see their dad sitting next to me comforting me as I am crying through the stories and songs. As I sat through it I was reminded that my life isn’t my story, that the fight that I am fighting and the challenges I am facing are all issues that should be brought to Christ on my knees. I don’t have the same strong faith that I grew up seeing in the Korver family and the Emmanuel Church family, but I know that what I am giving matters and that I am here for a purpose. I don’t have to hold all of the cards, I just have to know that Christ is in control and it is not all about me. I am working on who I am, less of me and more of Christ. Until next time:

Well done good and faithful servant, well done!

Being Mary in a Martha World

There once was a girl named Martha. She was such a hard worker and every time there was a party hosted at her home she was the best hostess ever. She made sure there was always food available for the guests, her house was spotless and she always had kind words to say to the people that came. She worked tirelessly to make sure that you felt at home when you were in her home. Martha didn’t complain much, but when she did it was mainly because she was overwhelmed and took on more than she should. Martha’s sister Mary helped but not as much as Martha would have liked. Mary loved to learn and whenever she had the chance she would sit with scholars and teachers to learn all that she could. On most days Martha didn’t mind this but one night, when they had a special guest at their home, Martha felt the waves of stress overwhelm her. She had so much to do, the soup needed stirring, and the mantel needed to be dusted. The wine was ready to be poured but there was no one available to pour it. From the corner of her eye Martha spotted Mary sitting in the living room with the guest of honor, doing what Mary did best: learning. Mary was listening to Jesus so intently she didn’t realized that she had put her duties aside, until Martha came into the room and asked Jesus a question.

It was actually more of a plea, could Jesus please make Mary help Martha with the many, many chores that still needed to be done so that when the rest of the guests arrive the house and banquet would be ready. I can relate with Martha on so many levels. We as a family don’t have a whole lot of parties and “get togethers” at our house, but there are many days were I am overwhelmed. When I look at my three kids I see three very different personalities, styles, opinions, strengths and weaknesses. They grew up knowing a certain way of thinking. They were taught the value of faith, they were taught the value of hard work, and they were taught that with family we do our best to stick together and be nice, since the outside world isn’t always that way. I look at my husband and I am so very thankful for him, he is far from perfect as am I, and because of that we have our disagreements but we always know that we will get through them. Work and the world take up the rest of what can overwhelm be and makes me start to look around and wonder why it seems there is no one here to help me. My inner Martha starts to shine through, and instead of being a gracious host I turn into a person who is resentful and envious of others who seem to have no worries at all, and so I start to complain and start begging and pleading with God to set things right, to make things easier because after all, I am doing what I am doing to be better for Him.

Mary, Martha’s sister had it right all along, she put Jesus first. How would she know to be like Him if she didn’t learn everything about Him. She knew she had chores to do and a sister to help. She knew that the responsibilities were there, but I think deeper down she knew that she wouldn’t have Jesus in the flesh always, at some point He would have to leave. Everything that could cause Mary stress and make her overwhelmed vanished into the background when she focused on Jesus. She made it look so simple. Just look to Jesus and the things that worry you won’t be gone, but they will fade because you know who is in charge.

I have to go on a trip soon, and one of things that happens when I first step onto a plane is I get a little (a lot) anxious. Over the years it has lessened but the anxiety hasn’t never fully gone away. This will be a quick trip to my parents house, but it also means that I will be taking a few days off from work, and that my family will fend for themselves for a few days. Lately I have worried more and more about my daughters because as they grow older they do start to have opinions of their own, they start dressing certain ways, and they start to have different sets of beliefs than they used to. I know this is all about them growing up, but there is always this underlying line of stress that sets me up to worry about them. It’s funny to think out of all the things I could worry about it is the life choices my girls are making that tops my list. Oh the Martha in me is creeping out again. I start to let the momma guilt take hold. Could I have been more of a role model? Could I have talked to them more about the roads they want to go down? Could I have shown my faith more by praying more and reading my Bible more? Maybe yes to these questions, but then there is the factor of the world view that shows up every time we read the paper, turn on the TV, talk with our family and friends.

When Mary sat at the feet of Jesus to listen to him teach, she was all in, all there, there wasn’t anything that could distract her from what she was doing at that moment. No worries, no fears, no future “what ifs”. She made it look simple because it can be that simple. She put worship over worries. There just isn’t enough room in our brains and heart for both. When my hubby and I became parents we were blessed with the role of raising our kids. It has been quite the ride and we are in the teenage/preteen years now. I feel like I am holding on for dear life. We have wonderful kids that have hearts of gold. Family dynamics help us have fun together but can cause fights as well. Raising a family has it’s challenges for sure, but what if I were to sit at the feet of Jesus daily, twice daily, praying continuously as if I am in a constant conversation with Jesus would my worries fade to the background? Would I have a Mary like relationship? I know the answers are yes. I know that I am not in control, and that I can’t make my kids into the people they are becoming. I can guide, and pray, and be there for them. Oh to be like Mary in a Martha world. There is a need for Martha personalities and there is a need for Mary personalities, but there is the biggest need of all and that is the peace and strength that comes from sitting at the feet of Jesus. Find rest, find joy, and find courage to be like Mary. There is no room for worry when you are filled with worship. Until next time:

And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.  But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.    Luke 10: 41-42

Working, gentle Hands

I remember as a kid looking at my grandma’s hands and following all of the veins that went along the back and how she kept her nails short. I’ve always known her to be a hard worker and when she had to take care of my grandpa with Parkinson’s disease, her hands were gentle, but firm. She always put us at ease with a touch of her hands and a warm hug, not to mention a bowl of ice cream whenever we came over. She was always doing thing with her hands, cleaning the house, taking care of grandpa, watching her grandson when his mom had to work, working in her garden to name a few activities. She taught us the value of hard work and being loyal. My parents aunts and uncles all showed us the value of hard work and to really get into a job to do it right even if it meant a little dirt under the nails, because of this my hubby and I try to instill into our kids the importance of hard work and a gentle touch.

Over the years I have seen the power a gentle touch can have, and I have been lucky enough to be the recipient of said touch. When I was a new momma I remember being so nervous and worried that I was doing something wrong. I was given this small being, wheeled out of hospital and was basically told “good luck, you’ll do fine”. I had no idea what I was doing, but I had women come alongside me to encourage and help when I had no clue. The gentle touches that I received came in the form of cleaning my house, a warm meal made, a gentle squeeze of the shoulder and I hug my baby tight. As my first child became a sister twice the help we were given during the growing years and into their teen/preteen years came in the form of playdates, and special moments with friends, helping around the house and many, many encouraging hugs letting me know that I can a will survive the teenage/preteen years.

I have seen working hands be there in need for people an their pets at my job. I firm but gentle hold on a nervous dog/cat. Experienced hands doing precise procedures and surgeries. Hands that have expertly performed blood draws and placed catheters. Hands that have supported clients when they have had to make tough decisions. It’s a crazy place to be working in a field that requires you read animal minds as well and trying to decipher human’s thoughts. Pets trust their humans to keep them safe and to love them, while the nurses and doctors that are there to help take care of the pets have to read the body languages of the pets to know how to treat them and approach them. There is actually a whole training on making sure an animals has a “fear free” visit when they come into a hospital, you know what the main focus is? How we handle and touch the animals. If we provoke more fear or nervousness we are not handling them correctly and are taught to reevaluate the situation. The power of touch is a real thing.

We use our hands for so many things, when we chose to use them to hold a hand, hold a leash, or start a project, it’s amazing what they are good for. Yesterday I had a really hard day at work, actually it was near the end of the day that was the hardest. I had to be there for a client who was putting her 14 year old dog down, and when there was a point that the dog needed some support before we went forward it was the gentle hand of his owner holding him that calmed him down to be loved and comforted by the rest of his family. As I returned home from that appointment it wasn’t my family this time that helped me relax, it was sitting next to my dog and just petting his head. He allowed me to twirl his floppy ears in my fingers and scratch his head and neck. That calmed me down and helped me to be there for my family. He may not have working, gentle hands but he allowed my hands to pet him so that I could start to relax and get to a point that I could be present with my family. The power of touch is a wonderful thing. Until next time:

No other form of communication is as universally understood at touch. The compassionate touch of a hand or a reassuring hug can take away our fears, soothe our anxieties, and fill the emptiness of being lonely.

Randi G. Fine

Summer Fun

Without smoke……..

I live in an area of Oregon that is beautiful in it’s own right. We have all four seasons though some of them are “shorter” than others. We have mountains, lakes, and a variety of trees surrounding us. I have lived here for almost 20 years and I still find new things that can be done. Most of the time though we stick to what we know: camping, going to the lake, hiking, biking and swimming at the pool. Our kids are getting older now which means we can try some new adventures with them.

Last weekend was somewhat of a bust of family fun. We try and do something as a family on the weekends whether it’s playing board games or taking a hike, but last week my hubby and I decided to get the bedroom floor put in and get the nasty carpet out. The kids were very patient with us and did their own thing, but our youngest has a limit when it comes to “doing his own thing”. So by midday Sunday he was done. He had that sad “I am so bored” look on his face. Even the dogs couldn’t change that. We had him help us bang in a few boards but wasn’t enough either. So we came up with a plan, we would be heading to the lake. Over the week the plan was still in play, the hubby even get a paddle boat rented for something new for us to try. As the week went by our fifth season came upon us.

I know, I know their are only four seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter. In our neck of the woods the fifth season is Fire Season. We have had quite a few over the years and this summer has been no different. Summer/fire season usually is marked with beautiful hot summer days, turned instantly into blah “check your air quality before you do anything” days. This past week we had days that started clear turn into afternoons that the surrounding mountains disappeared behind the smoke. I think we even had a day where we had a gentle ash fall from a fire that was about 30 miles away. Most of the time we gauge what we’ll do based on the air quality, but usually we go about our days. This weekend though, when we headed to the lake, there was some smoke in the air but not enough to keep us home.

“Smoke Clouds”

The lake was beautiful, the kids and the dogs (ok really just Jorj, Charlie is still of the mindset that water is not her friend) played in the lake and loved the fact that they could jump off the paddleboat. When it was time to return the boat, we finished the day with ice cream. I admit this used to be a bigger deal when the kids were little. Now that we have teens and a 10 year old, it really isn’t as big for them but they still seemed to have enjoyed the trip, but really how can we really tell when the girls head off by themselves and “glare” at you when it comes to getting them engaged in conversations with you? I just have to know deep, deep down that they had fun.

Then yesterday happened. So my oldest has a group of friends that she talks/hangs out with. There is a “new” friend that she has been hanging out with more (going to the fair, texting..etc.). I am always looking for situations in which I can tell that my teen girls are still ok with communicating with us “poor lost parents”. You know, things like showing us a new game they started, letting us watch an episode of their favorite show with them, having a “new” friend come to the house to hang out. I am blessed when I am a part of these moments, and yesterday was no different. So to put this into context, my oldest daughter once asked my youngest, Tyler what it would take for him to like a guy that she liked. He said the boy had to treat her right and would also have to be willing to have a nerf war. So this weekend the war was planned. The guns were drawn and the fun began. I will tell you, my son had a blast getting ready for this. He brought out the weights to start training his muscles to carry the load of a fully loaded nerf gun. Even my middle child who tends to stay in her room most days, and in her words “likes only three people, and tolerates the rest” comes out to play.

I really didn’t understand the capacity of hard, when raising teenage girls. My two are so very different but are best friends. One it trying to figure out who she really is, while the hormones are nowhere near balancing out, while the other older one has gotten through that rough patch to enter into the next one of deciding if she wants to stay the same person, while seeing there is a whole new world of guy friends and first time jobs. My youngest is muddling his way through with his parents just trying to stay out of the hurricane that is the girls. This is why we try and do family days. Even if the smoke is more than we want. Even if the rolling eyes and the blank stares are increasing, we know it is important to find time as a family to be together.

Summer and fall are my two favorite seasons, it has everything to do with being outside and enjoying the sun while not loosing the tips of my fingers to frostbite (I know, I know, I am dramatic). A healthy dose of Vitamin D will do wonders for the body. We came home exhausted from the lake, the kids finished the nerf war laughing. We didn’t get much work done this weekend, and that is ok. A family is a strong bond, a family that sticks together is even stronger. We were not made to be alone, and to work all the time. Even Jesus had days of rest, He enjoyed time with His friends and family. To tell you the truth, I know I will make it through the teenage years, I will probably have less hair and need a large bowl of ice cream when this is all done, but I pray that my kids will remember the fun we had as a family and that we support and stick with each other through thick and thin. Until next time:

When you do something beautiful and nobody noticed, do not be sad. For the sun, every morning is a beautiful spectacle and yet most of the audience still sleeps.

John Lennon

Check On Your Friends

This week was a very busy week and it’s only Thursday. There was more running around than I care to admit. Work was busy, home was busy but in a different family way. There were changes in the house and changes in life. The week started with a celebration of life for a woman that encouraged so many people in so many ways. The flooring in my bedroom was getting changed out from carpet third flooring. I could say that it was a job that my hubby and I both did together but to be honest it was split 70% him 30% me. During this same time I was trying to decide if I would fly down to my parents place to go to another celebration of life, and then planning the trip. Through all this life keeps going on. Yesterday was a triple booked day at the clinic, and we were trucking along getting our patients seen when I saw a friend at the front desk picking up some medications for her pet. As she was leaving she got a hug from the receptionist, so I thought I would love to get a hug and chat even for a little bit with her.

I wish I could say my friend was doing ok, I knew something was up because she is usually cheerful and happy. As I went outside to catch her it was barely a catch as I ran to her truck as she was getting ready to pull away. I made my little signal to roll down her window to find her fighting back tears. I gave her a big hug, or at least as big as I could through the window, asked if she was ok had to let her go without getting the full story. If she hadn’t come in I wouldn’t have know that she wasn’t ok, don’t get me wrong the intent to call her was there, the time to do it never showed up. I realized at that point that I am too busy. If I can’t even check in on my friends, I might need to slow down a bit.

The same applies to my family. It’s a running joke in my family: the actual end of my work day. There is a theoretical time that I am supposed to be off and I tend to blow right past that time and get home later than expected. So if I am doing this with my family, how much more do my friends not get any of my time. This is not some feel bad for me thing, it’s an eye opener that I need to step back and slow down, don’t tell my hubby I said that!🤣

The pastor last night talked about Hagar, Abraham and Sarai. All three were a part of Gods plan, though they had no issues during their story of taking things into their own hands. Sarai was unable to have kids so she took things into her own hands. Abraham got a bit impatient with how the plan was going so he did things get get it moving along. The end message was that we are all quick to say things are not going as planned, or that the plan is too slow, too hard, too well anything. If we work at stepping back from our tunnel vision and start giving God’s plan a chance we would see that we are not in this by ourselves. God puts people in our lives for a reason and a season. That goes for us as well. We are put into peoples lives for a reason and a season too. So we need to be there for those people. We need to step back and slow down.

Joy comes from taking a moment to breathe, talk to God, take care of yourself and do what you can to be there for others. The one main thing I learned from the celebration of life I was at, is that you need to be present, you should follow your dreams, don’t put limitations on what you want to do, and encourage the people around you. This gal checked in on her friends, and encouraged them and in return they did the same for her. As I am writing this I am sitting in the car with my daughter as she slurps down her milkshake. We are waiting to help a friend by picking up her daughter after church. It’s a small thing but sometimes it’s the small things that matter the most. Until next time:

Choose to be present, do the small thing, make the call, smile more often. This is where the joy can be found

An Inspiration to be Humble

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.          Ephesians 2:8-10

I am so excited to be God’s handiwork. I grew up knowing that I was God’s handiwork, and not just me but everyone around me. Growing up in Southern California wasn’t always easy but for me it was perfect, or as perfect as it could be. I had two parents that loved me, aunts and uncles, grandparents all close by that wanted to be a part of my life as well as my sister’s and brother’s. I grew up knowing that I played a part in my family. We worked with each other, played with the kids in our neighborhood, had family get together and went to a church that taught us to love and help those around us. I didn’t know what it meant to be prideful in my home or church. Humbleness was inadvertently taught by how we acted and cared for each other.

Yesterday I received the very sad news that a person I highly respect passed away. This man was a pillar of his community, he worked on major projects and even helped his city he lived in win great awards for the changes that were implemented to help make the area safer. He urged the church to get involved in lives of the people that lived in and around the building. He was a great pastor who lead our church and helped in growing the congregation. He worked with the new pastors, he guided and he encouraged them. The best thing about this wonderful man…….he was humble. He cared for the kids that came to the church, for the families, and for the elderly. My favorite memory was walking to church with my family, passing his home and having him make sure to stop what he was doing say hi and give each of us kids a candy from his pocket. He was very involved in the church and he made sure to encourage people as he passed them.

Harold and his wife had five sons, some of them became pastors, one is the senior pastor now at Emmanuel. This one family changed so many lives, not because of the words that came out of their mouths but because of the actions they did. One of Harold’s sons Ken married my husband and I. Other sons moved to pastor other churches. Some of his grandchildren are pastors, others play major league sports. Because of the love and humbleness that was taught to the congregation people set aside themselves and their selfishness to work with teens, college students. Basketball tournaments were set up around the city for outreach, and the pastors would go and play alongside gang members and people who wouldn’t normally feel comfortable at a church.

when I moved away from the influence this church had, I missed the humble nature. I missed hearing the messages and even at times when I felt homesick I would listen to live streams that were available. When I went to work with teens at a youth group, I wanted them to help others and be an influence in the community that was good and powerful. Powerful only if it was my God’s grace, and flowing with humbleness. If we do things for others to notice we have our reward, if we do things because we are called to do them we won’t need others to notice.

Pastor Harold’s celebration of life, I imagine will shut down a large part of the city in which the church is located. I know people with fly in from other states, and that there will be a lot of tears. I know that there will be laughter and joy too. Pastor Harold ran the good race. He lived out 2 Timothy 4:6-8:

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near.  I fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Holding My Breath

You ever have those moments when you don’t realize you are holding your breath until you are out of the situation and your breathing returns to normal?

I have had quite a few of those moments over the years. Sometimes it’s as simple as letting out my breath once I have finished doing a difficult procedure like placing a catheter into a small kitten. I don’t even realize that I have “stopped breathing” until I have stepped back and looked over my work and saw that what I did was satisfactory for the task needed.

This past weekend I had to do the final part of my year and a half training on Hospice and Palliative Care for animals. I had to take the final exam. I was given three hours to complete an hour final exam. It was open book/opening note but that didn’t make it any easier. I sent my hubby and my son away to the movie theater, my two girls were in charge of the dogs and the constant in and out that they love to do. The obligatory studying happened the day before as well as the procrastination of starting the test. It’s not that I didn’t feel ready to take the test but there is a phenomenon that goes on in my brain that happens beforehand that feels literally like everything I have learned is erased. Maybe it’s because I know I have a time limit. Maybe it’s because I know that if I don’t pass the test this time I have to wait until next year to retake the test. Maybe it’s because I know that if I do pass the test people will know I now have specialized training and they’ll ask advice about what I have just learned about, and that in itself is scary. I took my time getting my area set up so that I would be comfortable. I had the notes and the Ipad set up to quickly look up what I didn’t know. I had the computer plugged in so as to not have it die half way through. I had my bowl of chocolate covered almonds and water nearby just in case I started to breath during the test and realized I was hungry. If I had been truly prepared there would have been an oxygen pump set up nearby and some soft soothing music to help calm my nerves a bit. My chair was comfy and my finger was poised and ready to hit the start test button.

Two hours into the test I realized that I might just make it. All I had to do was get enough courage to hit the submit test button. Last time I had to hit that type of button I was trying to become a Licensed Vet Tech and had to pass it or do the mandatory “get your college degree” route to try again ( I was grandfathered into the program based on the amount of hours in the field I had). When I submitted my test then and got the “you passed” message I ran back to my hotel room and screamed and then cried. I called people, I did a little jig, I posted it on social media, I finally realized I could breath again. This time after about 5 minutes of talking myself into hitting the button, I got the “you passed” message again. Now don’t get me wrong I was and am still so excited about passing but my response was slightly different than it was back then. The first thing I did was breath, I took a few deep long breaths and realized I was done with my current training, and then I really realized I was done with my training and my eyes started to get a bit wet. It might have been eye sweat but I really think it was closer to tears. I texted the hubby (who was still at the movies), I texted my sister and then my boss and the hospital manager (both good friends). I proceeded to clean up my area and put stuff away. I had a moment where I thought I might throw up but that went away when I remembered I got to celebrate with some of my favorite ice cream.

This year graduation will be in person if you make it to the conference. The conference is in Florida and I am not so the next best thing will be a short video and a picture of myself sent to the powers that be. I am excited to see where this training takes me. I am nervous as well and am probably “holding my breath” because there is the unknown of where I will go with this training. I have so much work to do to let people in my community know that there is this option available, and having to talk with the veterinarians as well so they know they can inform their clients about this option. Change is coming and it’s inevitable. Being overwhelmed is not. Breathing is mandatory. Support is always needed and I am given a lot of it thankfully. This journey wasn’t easy and there was a lot of planning logistics that happened but I am happy to say I am done! Until next time:

If we don’t change we don’t grow. If we don’t grow we aren’t really living

Gail Sheehy

Family Strength

Family is like brewing tea. I love tea, but not just any tea. My tea has to be the green tea with lemongrass that used to be found in stores all over, and then it started only being in a few stores and now I play it safe and get it online so that I don’t stand a chance running out of it. When I first was introduced to this specific tea I was against all teas and thought they all were bitter tasting and stained your teeth. To my great delight this one was light in flavor and no matter how much of it I drank my teeth stayed pearly white. I recently found out though since it’s green tea you are supposed to get the water to a certain temperature before you place the tea bag in, if you don’t get this detail right you are basically drinking colored water with a hint of tea flavor. All of the nutrients are boiled away. So you make the water too hot, bye, bye good stuff, don’t make it hot enough and you are not getting all of the nutrients that you can out of the tea leaves. Funny how this theory can apply to families.

I was blessed within this month to be able to vacation with both sides of my family. I spent a week with my side of the family at a cabin by a lake, and I just got back from a week in a tent by the lake with my hubby’s side of the family. The families are more alike than different. They both have struggles that they are dealing with, they both like to eat, and they both like to have fun together and genuinely love each other. Oh and they both seem to really like to do trips by bodies of water. The difference is in how loud they are when they get together. My side is like a mild flavored tea while my hubby’s side is a strong pot of black tea. Both teas are great and full of nutrient, they are brewed differently but that is where their strength comes from. I would not be who I am today without the strength and love I get from both groups.

When I got back from my trip with my side of the family I knew what had to be prayed for. I knew what the praises and difficulties my parents, siblings and nieces and nephews had. We had fun together, we talked, we played and we had hard discussions. We knew that when we all left to go back to our respective homes and lives that we may not talk a lot but the thought and prayers were still there. I have some fears when it comes to what is being faced by my family, but we are brewed the same and have been doing this life together for a long time. The nutrients are there with our love and faith. We are cut from the same clothe so we are there for each other. The strength was made perfect from the trials and celebrations we have had in our lives. We are a quiet bunch though, the intensity in which we communicate is somewhat mellow and can be a bit intimating if you don’t know us well. Mild but healthy. Strong but not overpowering.

Just getting back from the camping trip with my hubby’s side of the family has made me realize that they have the same qualities that I stated about my family, they just voice them a little louder. They are a strong group of people and loyal. They have fun together, but must have schedules. All they really want though is for people to do and say what they mean and stick to it. Strong black tea. I had to leave the trip early due to having to go back to work. I usually thrive on having some quiet time to myself and I know I will enjoy it when I get the house back to order, but what I noticed as my friend and I drove away was that I was missing a bit of the loud. Just as I instantly missed the quiet strength I received from my family when we all went home, it was the same this time but I knew I would miss the talking around the firepit, the walks to the park and even the giggles when the adults decide that it really is fun to just have fun with the kids. What I pray for is that my kids will embrace the strength and fun they have with both sides and realize that even when they grumble they are still in a place of love and support.

I recently have been feeling as if the temperature has been turned up too high, not in the literal sense even though we have had record heat waves and have been close to fires. I know I am being prepared for something, I have events happen in my life for a reason and I have had to deal with life changes and attitude changes within my family. There have been days were I have requested to know one in particular that I am ready to be taken off the heat. If I could be given the chance to cool down for a bit, then I could brew what I should brew and still keep the nutrients. Its is a struggle when you don’t feel like you are being heard and the temperature seems to be turned up rather than down, but then people say things that help. A verse of the day is exactly what I needed to hear. I get home from a trip with my favorite ice cream and for no apparent reason at all the cat (Lilly) makes an appearance and actually wants to snuggle. It’s in those moments that the tea is brewing and the good stuff is coming out. It’s in those moments that I can be thankful for the loud, and the quiet but loving people in my life. I have been home for about 2 hours and I miss my hubby, my kids, and the dogs, but I also know this is good for me to be home, and in the quiet. So I say, even if you don’t like tea, find your tribe, your people. Brew with them, get to know the temperature in which you are at your best, get the good stuff from what you have around you. Until next time:

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it

Hebrews 12:11

Loud, But Quiet

This is the week of the coast camping trip. We do this trip every year with my hubby’s side of the family. Our camping spot is pretty well perfect! Three sites 16 people with kids outnumbering the adults, which can be a scary thought in itself. We eat together, play together and roast marshmallows together. We are loud and proud, you could say.

My family arrived Saturday afternoon in a whirlwind of parting the “kid sea” (think hockey playing on a road and a car comes). All the kids stop what they are doing to let the car pass and then it’s back to playing catch, and riding bikes. Since we are the ‘new thing’ of the hour all the kids then want to come see what’s new at our campsite. We did not let them down with a tent, trailer, bikes, dogs and the cousins there was much to see and do. Probably the best thing was having my youngest nephew try and help put up the tent. My hubby was pretty smart this trip, he made sure he was in charge of making all the meals besides lunches. Just think, no clean up, no dishes, no breaking up arguments between the kids. He is in charge of us all getting food onto our plates. I mean he went all out too, menus were made up and printed out, families were put in charge of bringing certain ingredients, and even the kids were split into pairs to do the clean up and help cook. He really did make meal times run smoothLy which is a good thing since most everything else is chaotic.

On that note, Charlie, I love our newest addition to the family, she is just a little timid and shakes when her emotional support dog Jorj isn’t around. Charlie is our new puppy. She is actually about 11 months old, and came to us a nervous Nellie, but she has come a long way, until she was forced to meet the cousins. She really did not know what to do with them. They all wanted to say hi to her and pet her and she just wanted to hide behind Jorj. So we put rules into place the the kids couldn’t do anything with her until Tim or I were around. When they did do something they had to be calm and come towards her slow and steady. The first day she tried to have a heart attack, by day three she was getting pet by all the kids and trying to lick their faces.

Yesterday was our first day at the lake, it was also our group picture day. We all headed to the lake wearing our camp shirts made up especially for this trip. It was loud, it was colorful and it was windy. We found a great spot for the pictures and managed to get those done before we headed to the water. We had inflatable flamingos, boats and even bacon. The dogs got to try their legs at swimming while the kids played and tried hard at keeping the inflatables from blowing away. The log was conquered and the kids had a blast jumping off from it. Sand was in places it shouldn’t be, and we were unfortunately find the only patch of thorns in the grass around the lake. By the time we left we were tired, sandy and satisfied with the fun we had. But quiet time was in order. I gave my hubby the dogs, and I headed to the tent.

Quiet time in a campground is a myth, but if you play your cards right you can get to your tent before anyone notices you are gone. I admit my escape to the tent was because of a small breakdown from being a bit overwhelmed due to the wind, thorns, inflatables and the dogs, but I managed to get to the tent, explain to the hubby what happened, and had him play referee when it came to people trying to find out where I went. People just let me be for a little bit. I was able to rest, write, and listen to the sweet conversations my nephews were having right outside my tent, including their rendition of “Hit me with your best shot!” While they played football. Since my kids are a bit older they didn’t need me constantly, and the dogs are getting a well deserved nap. The hubby is on dinner and the rest of the family seems to be doing their own thing so I had “peace”, thankfully.

I do have to return to the land of the non-hiding people who are camping and so I am so thankful for the loud and proud but am as equally thankful for the time alone I was granted. I think tonight is tri-tip and a cobble4 of some sort for dessert. I know walking the dogs and talking to my kids is in my near future. I will enjoy my family, but I will appreciate and enjoy my quiet. I will have to come out of hiding eventually, but for now it will be a nap first. Until next time:

It’s all fun and games until someone cracks, and needs a nap

Peace, Umm Maybe

I really did think that once I changed my clothes after a long day at work that I would be able to peacefully sit down and write something inspirational and possibly a bit humorous. Let’s just say that it didn’t really go as planned. I think the only thing that I did accomplish is changing my clothes. I did sit down but it was really only to check out my poor puppy’s ears. Miss Charlie was looking a bit droopy on one side, and seemed a little put out that something just wasn’t right. A dog knows best, poor girl had a grass seed in her ear and the start of an Aural Hematoma. Yay steroids! Ok so not really in the sense that she needs any more muscles, but they will keep her ear flap from getting worse. Which brings me back to the part where I peacefully sit down, to work on inspiration and humor.

What does it mean to be peaceful? I know it is different than being quiet or even alone. To have peace means that you are ok with what is going on around you, how you feel about what is going on, and having the ability to not allow the environment around you to change your current disposition. I am not quite sure I have the ability to achieve a level of peace high enough that I am no longer phased by circumstances. Heck my knees alone tell me daily that there is a level creaking they will do just to remind me they are there. I love the amount of activity that takes place in my home. The girls are always talking to each other about secret little things, Tyler has a way with the dogs and can get them playing and running for hours at a time. There are many nights when we end up doing our own thing but even in that there is activity and creativity. There is calm in the routine, as my hubby can tell you, if there is something that has been moved and he doesn’t know where it got moved to, there is no calm or peace. I have an issue with clutter and messes, I actually feel my blood pressure rise, and so when I am told I have to deal with said clutter and messes for a little bit, I do not have peace, calm, sanity, or hope (ok I know that’s a bit dramatic there).

One of my favorite things to do is escape into a book, even better when I am sitting by the lake reading said book. Recharging and resetting, finding your way into your own special level of peace. I find peace when I know my family is doing ok. I find peace when I know I have shown love in the best way I know how. I find peace in doing something fun and new especially with loved ones. I find peace in knowing that someone was helped by something I did. Ok so here’s my humor part of this blog:

What do you call a cow with no hind legs?

An udder drag……

I will leave you on that note. Have a good day y’all!

Still Going Strong

Montana, everything seems bigger here.

We are going on our forth day here, and we have yet to slow down. We have four different families all sharing a big open cabin in the woods. We eat together and play games together. We even have adventures. It’s hard though to come together after not seeing each other for a few years. We all have gone through the COVID 2020 pretty much unscathed, but there still is a fear way in the back of all our minds when someone sneezes too close, that maybe, just maybe it could be something more. Luckily this week has been a cough here and there with a sore throat popping up probably due more to doing too much while not slowing down enough to catch up.

Sunday was our day to get the cabin in order, everyone in heir chosen rooms and a stop at the store for supplies was done. The kids all went down to the lake while some adults visited, and others braved the lake with the kids. We played board games and visited, we ate too much and planned more. By Monday we signed up for white water rafting, let me tell you 9 people in a boat, two kids under twelve, two rookies and a guide who is soft spoken until she needs to be loud. It was a blast. We spent two hours on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River, listening to the guide, “TWO FORWARD!”, “THREE BACK!” “ When I say row, ROW!” The kids were curious as ever as to when the next rapid was coming. When we did have a rapid and we were rowing for our lives I would try to figure out how long it would take to pry my sister’s knee out of my back as she is holding on. We got wet, some got drenched, the kids thought it was the greatest thing and we all went home happy, excited and ready for the next adventure.

The funny thing about getting a lot of people together is somethings things don’t always work out as planned. We tried to get into Glacier National Park for the day but arrived too late in the morning to get a parking spot. Our other dilemma was getting people into cars in which sick or possibly sick people were not put in the same car with healthy people. We potentially sick ones wear masks but ,asking the trip a good one for all took some organizing. An hour later, no luck with parking we ended up in the main village for lunch, shopping and ice cream. Low key but still turned out well.

Yesterday was the day though, my sister and her hubby planned this 14 mile hike, it would start in one location and end in another. We needed two cars, and two drivers. One car at the finish line the other to drop us all off at the starting point. Originally seven people were going to attempt the hike, but it dwindled down to five. Oh man were the views breathtaking! Jagged peaks everywhere, flowers in bloom, small waterfalls cascading down the sides of mountains, even a chateau in the middle of nowhere.

Five people twelve miles with two miles added to see the continental divide and a glacier. Five people going through the wilderness away from everything, our hearts are full and our feet and knees hurt. The day was amazing, we stayed strong for each other and we arrived back at the cabin to share the rest of the night we the family. It is such a good feeling to be with family, I love listening to the cousins talk, it’s even better when they play together. I love when we have to rally around each other when one family feels a bit left out because sickness was brought into the cabin. Hard choices were made but in the end we made sure they knew they were welcomed and loved. We are all so different in this cabin. There is a mix of teens, to kids to grandparents and adults. There is a lake out back with paddle boats and fishing poles. There is piles of games to play and places to go where adventures are made. Our beds welcome us at night as we fall into them exhausted. We are strong for each other and we will stay strong. It is such a good thing to come together and enjoy being with each other. Friday we all have to go home. It will be a bit hard since who knows when we’ll see each other again. We will keep praying for each other and will work to stay talking to each other. Most importantly we will be still going strong. Until next time:

Adventures are what you make them, memories are who you make them with.

Sun-tired

The sounds of the lake are music to my ears.

After a long week working, and trying to keep up with my hubby and kids we (the kids and I) left town for a weekend at the lake. I wish I could say it’s at a cabin that my family owns or that it wasn’t a long trip to get there, but on both accounts I can’t even remotely try to say that. So after a 12 hour day at work we finished packing our car and at the bring and early time of 3:30am we started our trip to Montana. Oh what a trip that was, you know that feeling you get when someone’s brights are still on and they are driving towards you and you really can’t see two feet in front of your car. That was most of my morning, but I was lucky enough to have my eldest daughter awake next to me in the front seat just a jabbering away. It really did help, though I can’t say for sure what she was talking about, 3am and brights will make you focus on the road more than the conversation you are listening to. The sun rise was beautiful and by the time we were in Washington all three kids were awake and well…jabbering. We made it to Idaho in record time, which is saying something since I was the sole driver (Tim had to stay home to start a new job). Idaho was interesting, we didn’t really stay long, but we were there long enough to get rear ending in stop and go traffic. I will say this, bike racks loaded with bikes can do some damage to small sedans when you drive an SUV. We were all ok, including the guy who hit us, and in now time flat we were on the road again. Montana really is beautiful, there are so many spots of wide open spaces. The forests are so close to the forests you would see in Oregon, with the elderberries, and the cedars. When we finally got to the cabin it really was a relief to get out of the car, but also to see the family we were driving to meet and to go out onto the back deck and just listen. I could feel the stress of the last few weeks and even the drive just melt away.

This cabin, like I said is not even ours. My sister reserved this place over a year ago for the extended family to converge on. We have all come from different parts of the U.S. just to spend a week visiting and having fun together. Which brings in the lake. I never realized how many lakes Montana has. We have been here a day and have only visited one, the one in our backyard. There is a special kind of feeling when you are an adult but you get to act like a kid. Our cabin has a dock, attached to this dock is a paddle board. After a. Owning of having to do adult things like planning and shopping, I could tell the kids were itching to get down to the dock. Two hours later, after many running jumps into the lake off the dock, and using the paddle board to get across the lake we decided to take a break, cue the “sun tired” feeling. It it probably the best kind of tired feeling to have. You know that you were active, you had fun, in our case we played hard at the lake and to sit and just relax on the back porch is heaven.

And so here I sit, dinner was yummy, the sounds of he kids back at the lake is amazing, and a little further down the road the neighbors are starting to get ready for the fun that happens during the 4th of July (we all know people don’t just celebrate on the 4th). I know when I finally do get to bed tonight I will sleep good. There really is something magical about just letting loose and getting the inner kid out. There is something energizing about to playing in the sun, and then swinging on the porch swing afterwards not knowing if you’ll be able to get up anytime soon, unless a nap happens. I try not to envy those who can have this lifestyle on a daily basis, I am just thankful that the plans were made, and the trip was done to be here enjoying my time at the lake. Until next time:

Life is about balance. You don’t always need to be getting stuff done. Sometimes it’s perfectly ok, and absolutely necessary, to shut down, kick back and do nothing.

Lori Deschane

Getting to that right state of mind

Notice: This post was written last year at around the same time. It really hit home again, and though some things have changed (mainly, my work location and the camping destination, this year we are heading to Montana), the contents are still so valid. I hope you enjoy

This week was one of THOSE weeks, a week where if the button was going to get pushed it did this week. It is quite easy to let negative thoughts go hog wild when things around you seem so hectic. Studies have shown that even one negative thought can change the chemical balance in your brain. One negative thought tends to lead to another and then eating habits change, attitudes for the day turn snarky and people start to realize that if they don’t get out of your way they might get run over by a runaway train. I swore by Monday night if I was rushed to get one more animal taken care of before the last one I brought to the doctor was done I might crack (our hospital practices with “car side service” we go out to the clients and bring the animals to the doctors). I knew I was tired, and hungry and I had been going at a rushed speed all day long. My state of mind was just not right. Sadly even one of the receptionists asked the question of how long we could all go at this pace before we broke down from the stress and pressure to keep up?

She hit the nail right on, if we feel this pressure in a smaller sized city what must it be like for those in larger cities who have more people and even pets to care for? We all then have to take it upon ourselves to get into the right state of mind. For some it may mean talking to someone maybe even a professional, for others journaling helps them find peace. Going to church or doing a Bible study definitely will help you to get into a more selfless mindset rather than selfish state of mind. If like me you are just struggling to get through a week or a day because there is just too much to do, focus on the task in front of you and eventually you will get through your list of “must do’s”

What if you are doing ok in general but you just need to take a break to “reset” your thoughts. This is where I found myself. I actually brought it up to my sister the other day and she pointed out that our dad used to literally wait all year to finally get a week off in which he would pack us all into the Grand Torino and drive 8 hours to to his favorite place in the whole world: Yosemite. As we talked about it a bit more I started to remember how the stress just seemed to melt off of his shoulders right as the car exited the tunnel that came before the panoramic view of the valley and all the famous mountains Yosemite is known for. It is crazy to think that I am exactly the same way. In order to fully reset my state of mind and get back to myself I need to get into nature. Sadly it is not always Yosemite that I get to escape to but I still have absolutely no problem packing my kids and the dog (my hubby usually rides his motorcycle to our destination) into the Expedition to head to where my heart soars and finds peace both at the same time.

A friend of mine once told me that for her to change her thought patterns she needed to get out with her dogs and walk. Another friend of mine has this thing about cards, she can make a card for any occasion and spends hours online looking for the right kind of paper or sticker for that next card. She is in her happy place when she is creating something that is meant to bring joy to someone else. There is a doctor that I once knew that would have so much fun planning and organizing trips for her and her husband to do. She always did it in a way that would be a surprise to her husband, she would tell him the type of clothes he should pack and for how long but then the rest would be a secret until they arrived. They actually both used to do this to each other and if you were around him or her while they were planning you could just feel that excitement radiating from them.

In order to really get into the right state of mind you have to care enough about yourself to see that you need a break, you need to find your happy, you need to realize that if the world around you is too overwhelming right now that talking with someone might be exactly what you need. I talk about my sister a lot only because next to my husband she is my best friend. So when we discovered the “Marco Polo” app it was a way for us to see each other (she lives in Alaska and I am in Oregon), which in turn helped us to be able to open up more about what is going on around us. The app is like a video walkie talkie in the sense you record what you have to say, facial expressions and all and then send it. Once the other person receives it they then in turn watch the video and then return one of their own. We noticed that once we started using the app more it helped us talk out what we needed to talk out in it’s entirety because we didn’t have the other person jumping in to say what they wanted to say. We actually found out in a weeks span we both had to deal with a bear along our walking paths, hers of course was not a small little brown bear like mine was. In all of the apps glory it helps us weekly get back into our right state of mind.

So now the question is this: Are you able to notice within yourself that you are or are not in the right state of mind? If you needed to change you thought patterns to more positive ones could you? A helpful guide from Jennie Allen called Get Out of Your Head: Stopping the Spiral of Toxic Thoughts could be a great starting point for you. Getting out into nature is a great way to enjoy the beauty that seems to get forgotten in the lightening speed way of life we lead. If you are saying to yourself: my life is more sedentary but I still need a change in mindset it really could be as simple as a walk around the block with your favorite music playing in the earbuds. When my kids were little I would turn the music up loud and dance around the house with them, now it’s fun to still turn it up loud and dance but the goal has changed to embarrass them as much as “momly” possible. So find ways to have fun, to laugh, to dance, to ultimately get your mindset where you need it to be. Until next time:

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain

Vacation on The Brain

One week left…….

Why does the last week of work before vacation seem so hard to get through?  I mean I know the typical answers are:

You are looking forward to the trip

You really need this vacation to start

You can finally get away from life and it needs to be sooner than later

And while these are all valid, it’s also because there is so much planning to do still to make sure that when you do go you can enjoy your trip.  This week is just that, As it is Monday I have already gone through Sunday which I can be honest I did nothing really to get ready for the week or the trip.  Sunday was for church, and then my Tyler man decided that since he did so well with his lemonade stand on Saturday that we would try it again Sunday.  So of course this means set up, and prep for him and for me, well it means I am a helicopter mom, without him knowing that I am a helicopter mom.    So I sit in my living room and I occasionally look out the window to make sure he is still alive and kicking and that some random person doesn’t pull up and steal his money bag.  There are other thoughts that go through my mind as he stands out there but if I voice them, then I am no longer just a helicopter mom, but I am a crazy, fearful momma who thinks the worst of everyone….where is the fun in that.  Most of my morning was doing the mom thing, very important but really I could have done so much in the prep department while I hovered.    What about the rest of Sunday?  Well there was the heat, and there was the not wanting to move because of the heat thing.  Which is why we are at Monday.

I am so very thankful for the planners in my life.  Don’t get me wrong I do plan, and I do prep.  I have lists gosh darn it!  I love my lists and I love that my lists (especially my food shopping lists) magically get taken care of.  The magician?  My wonderful hubby is home with the kids, and because of this he does the shopping and the preparing of the dinners and such.  This all will change next week when he starts his new job but for this week I will fully love that the shopping for the camping trip will be done by him.  I produce a list of the things I will need, he will produce a ton of bags full of food.  It is a great relationship we have.  All joking aside, my hubby is amazing!  He has taken on this role and has made it happen.  I will miss this when he starts working but change must happen.  With this being said, he is the one that will make it possible this week.  Food will be bought, luggage will be brought in, and bikes will be checked.  I will be at work thinking about vacation. 

Saturday will be here quicker than what I want to think about right now.  At the same time I cannot wait for Saturday to get here.  I am sad that Tim can’t come, but it will be an adventure just the same.  Twelve hours of driving, a week of playing at the lake, hiking, and being with extended family.  Memories will be made for sure.   My family and I take a vacation together once a year, sometimes twice.  It is something I look forward to, it is the break in routine that helps me clear my head for when life starts up again.  I have friends that do “stay-cations”, and ones that fly somewhere.  When it comes down to it, it’s going and doing something that is good for you.  It’s no longer the status quo of working yourself to death, if anything this past year has taught us that we need to do more to take care of ourselves.  We have hopefully learned that the better we take care of ourselves with what we eat, how we exercise, and even how we control of our thoughts, we will start to have healthier, happier lifestyles.  Taking a vacation is part of this equation.  So with this, my week will feel shorter than what it is, because I am so excited to go somewhere.  It will also feel shorter because I am not ready to leave.  I procrastinate, I hope things will pack themselves, and I would love for the car will drive itself.  Take your vacations, turn off your phones, tell people that you are out of cell range (even if you’re not), and enjoy your moments.  There will always be something that needs to be done when you get back, so leave it there, and be in the moment now.  Until next time:

I believe the world will have a brighter shine this spring and summer than most of us have ever seen.  I anticipate the birds singing more loudly, the sun feeling warmer, and the outdoor lunches with friends being more enjoyable after we have spent a year in relative isolation.

Dr. Andy Roark

Going On A Trip

In my favorite rocket-ship…..

Ok this one one of the favorite songs my kids sang when they were little, thank you Little Eisensteins. This show was all about a group of really smart kids that went on fun adventures together in you guessed it; a rocket ship. As much as the show was make believe some of the adventures they went on had me wishing I was there with them. Ok not really, in all actually I just get excited whenever I get to go on a trip.

Here is work that comes with trips though, planning has to happen. When I was growing up, my family went on one trip a year. It was usually a week long and it usually was to a National Park. There were five people in my family, we had the Grand Torino with the third row seating facing backwards. We would pack up all we needed for camping. Tent, sleeping bags, clothing food etc. We would put it anywhere there was room and when it didn’t fit it as put on top or left at home. Once the car was packed the five of us would pack ourselves into the car. This wasn’t just our physical bodies but the stuff such as snack foods and drinks that we just had to have, as well as the travel games and books that were to keep us busy. All of this took planning. My mom did this part wonderfully, while my dad was tasked with packing it all in. If I had known there was a rocket-ship available to take us on our trip I would have begged to use that transportation.

Not much has changed when my family today goes on trips. We have one coming up in a couple of weeks. Our final destination will be a National Park. We will be packing our SUV with the supplies we need to survive a week of pure bliss. We just have to survive the trip together. Either I am a glutton for punishment or I am entrusting my sanity to my 3 kids, but we decided together that we would make the long 12 hour trip in one day. We figured with enough snacks, books and siblings sleeping on the trip we will all get there in one piece. Sadly my hubby can’t make this trip, but I wonder if he got wind of the plan and decided it’s safer to stay home. I bet if we had that rocket-ship he would be pushing us all aside just to get the the steering wheel. I digress, planning, this trip is going to take some planning. We have the gift of the internet and Google Maps. We can plan rest stops, gas breaks and lunch hours. We can keep track of how far we have gone and how far we have left. What we can’t plan is the adventure of the trip

We can’t plan the songs we’ll sing, the talks we’ll have. Yes we can try and plan fun stops but the adventure comes in the unplanned. Getting to the final destination will bring an adventure all its own. Instead of camping we have been blessed to share a cabin with aunts uncles, grandparents and cousins. We have a lake to play in, bike trails to find and hikes to accomplish. Wash family group will get to put on display some of their favorite meals to share. There will be s’mores and campfires. We will be in God’s masterpiece, and we will be with loved ones.

The kids in he show always had to solve some problem on their trips. It’s probably why they always got their rocket-ship, so they could have fun while heading to the problem they had to fix. If a rocket-ship means I have to solve a problem just to go on a trip, I think I will stick to my car, or maybe even a plane. When I go on a trip it’s to get away from problems that need to be solved. The phone gets turned off, the scrubs are left at home tucked away in the closet, and the flip flops come out. These next two weeks are a bit difficult, I admit, not because I am not happy with what I do daily, but because I know it two weeks, I have very minimal responsibilities and that flipping awesome! Until next time:

If happiness is a goal-and it should be, then adventures should be a priority

Richard Branson
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